There are two separate lives flying through the sky. They look like airplanes, but
one is closer to the ground, or on the ground; it depends on which story you are living
in at the moment. You are holding the airplane, tilted upwards, pretending you are
inside of it, pretending that you can pick between the two. And yes, your parents are inside
of the house, not the airplane, never
the airplane, and arguing over your purity. Both lives are fleeting. Both lives are
deplorable. Both lives aren’t lives at all. In this moment there is a boy, or two boys,
or three boys; too many boys, not enough Larry Trainors to fill in the gaps, to
create a shroud of false safety.
His name is Benjamin Quincy.
You are a child, but you are Larry. Actually, you are Lawrence. Actually, you are
undeserving, and the signs are everywhere.
Do not choose a life yet.
There are two separate lives flying through the sky. They look like you. Both lives wear your
face, statuesque, to be vandalized and eaten up, swallowed whole, by
the kind of regret that swallows everything. Entire
towns. Entire hearts. Entire love stories that don’t look like love stories and
instead look like you. Entire lives! Let’s say that the lives are called
“Normalcy” and “Degeneracy”. Or they’re called “Safety” and “Terror”, like a sick, slithering
horror movie villain, which is secretly you and always has been, but that isn’t very poetic, is it, Larry? No. No, it isn’t.
You know that it isn’t. You know a lot of things, even in childhood, like: if you
succumb to whatever this, to whatever will cause your parents to lose everything, then
they will lose everything. But hey, there isn’t anything more beautiful than a boy
who has lost everything, who holds bruises in his palms like gold coins.
You are playing doctor with Benjamin Quincy behind the swing-sets. He holds out his arm and
you inspect it. He holds out his hand and you take it and you think about hugging him,
grabbing him just to feel like you can be loved. Your mouth tastes like metal, spits red.
You imagine that your heart also tastes like metal.
There are two lives like houses made of playing cards; fragile, accompanied by the risk of collapse at any moment, and what happens then? What happens then?
Now there are two Larrys, standing in the hot American sun, and they both want to be
loved. One of the two Larrys is capable of love, the other Larry isn’t, and they’re both
screaming at you, we could be beautiful, like they’re trying to repent,
to beg for divinity’s mercy, we could
be beautiful. My name, says the Larry on the left side, and he’s on on top
of the hill, on top of the world, is Larry, and I am tired of wanting to be beautiful.
My name, says the Larry on the right side, a bit further down the hill, with the other Larry in the background like a Renaissance painting, is Larry, and I’m tired of wanting to be loved. My name is Larry and I am
Our name is Larry and we are tired of being a plural pronoun, so we are going
to cut each other up, for the last time, we mean it, and then
our lives will be different, for the first time, I mean it, and so on, like the loud lull
of an airplane being shot into the heavens, like disappearing and reappearing as the same,
not disappearing and reappearing as someone worthy extracted from the fairy tale—
a prince who loves the princess—
instead of someone extracted from a memory. We are the same. We are
the same, and we hate each other for it.
But you knew that, Larry, you know this story.
Your name is Larry and you have met a woman
on the other side of the hill. She goes to your school, and she is blocking your path.
You love her, you really, really do, and she is blocking your path, she is blocking
the exit road, or she is the exit road and has transformed into drying concrete. It doesn’t matter; your name is Larry.
They say that the name Larry means laurel-crowned. It does, but you are not crowned
with anything beyond pieces of broken glass and bandages to fix the holes
that the glass shot through. It is a miracle, Larry, that you are alive. You are,
you know, you are alive. You are not laurel-crowned, instead you are crowned
with a halo made of the word fear, and you wear it like it has been carved into
your forehead as a warning; that is to say, you do not take your crown off,
and you love Sheryl anyway. You love Sheryl like a best friend, which
means you must love her like a man loves a woman. Like a man
is supposed to love a woman.
You think love looks like an airplane. You think that love is, naturally, something to run from.
Let’s say the devil is played by one man. We’ll call him Larry. Let’s say God is hungry, and the Devil is also hungry, and they are both named Larry.
The Larry that is the Devil has a wound in his chest, has watched the wound rot and will later watch the wound fill up with blue light. This Larry has gone bad in the middle, this Larry cannot be saved.
The Larry that is God is very hungry. It is a different kind of hungry than the Devil’s hunger.
Where the Devil lusts, God-Larry loves, and that’s it.
Oh. If only it were that easy.
You’re graduating high school. It is 1946. There are three men in your graduating class named Lawrence. Two of them go by Larry. One of them has the last name Trainor. You’re not sure if the last one is you. He seems somewhat familiar, but that Larry Trainor keeps staring at another man’s hands, and that isn’t a side of you that you can stomach yet.
Sheryl gives a speech to bid the class farewell; she is intelligent, and you are intelligent,
but not in the right way. The room goes dark. The electricity goes out in the auditorium. Larry Trainor thinks, for one moment, in the darkness, that he can touch a man and get away with it. Just this once. Just an innocent brush of skin against skin. No one will notice.
You are enlisting in the air force. You are serving your country. You are not running.
Larry is not running. Larry is brave, or he can be brave, he is capable of it.
Later on the base you meet a man. He is named Larry. No; he is named John. He makes you feel like flying—and you do, you have your pilot’s license, you know how to fly airplanes and you know how to get away, and you do reprehensible things like dream about John every night and touch him in your sleep, in the pathways of the mind.
To the military he is a mechanic; to you he is a trap door that leads to a room that becomes a haunted house
when you let yourself give in, and you want to live in this room, you do.
You are a test pilot. This is your first time. Flying, that is, in experimental technology.
You could die up here. It could malfunction. You should die up here.
There are so many possibilities and none of them end with Larry Trainor. The plane enters the sky. Your parents are watching you; you are married, and they are proud of you, pleased to watch you pilot with intention, to soar into an unforgiving sky. There is an empty space behind you in the plane. John would fit there perfectly.
You are married. You are Larry. We skipped over that.
You are alone. John Bowers, who would do anything for you, is helping you fix some technological problems you noticed during the flight, and he is so close to you, and his skin is golden like a metaphor you’re not intelligent enough to grasp, and your entrails are singing a song about longing, about a life in which you are on one side of the bed and he is on the other side of the bed and your name is Larry and you are
But you aren’t, silly. You have John. They are the same thing.
You’re in the room again. He’s kissing you. John is kissing you; you’re letting him, you’re even kissing him back. This wouldn’t make your parents proud, but in this moment he is like a door, and your hand is on the doorknob, and your hand is on the doorknob, and he is wrapping his hand
around your hand and forcing you to open the door. You are also letting him force you to open the door, so he’s not really forcing you, is he? You are opening the door. He is merely guiding you.
The inside of the room looks like heaven. John also looks like heaven. Close the door. Don’t let anyone else in.
Suppose that your heart is rotting like that wound in your chest, that the chains keeping your love locked up like a prisoner have now been cut by John’s beautiful hands. But wait; there is a choice that you have to make. Every poem has a choice. Every story involves a choice. You can choose to read it, you can choose to leave it on the shelf, you can choose to finish it or you can choose not to finish it, to let the story remain good and uncomplete inside of your mind.
Your choice looks like an airplane. It’s not really a choice at all.
Consider the airplane. Consider the mechanisms. It is waiting for you, it is the only thing you can count on. You fly past the sun, and it does not burn you; instead you brand it, your own marking, the name Larry Trainor carved into the sun like fear carved into a body.
The sun turns to you. It says, you can’t keep doing this, you just can’t, and you tell it to shut up because it’s just a star, anyway, what does it know? You were flying toward it and now you are flying back. You are always flying back.
This time everyone has the best intentions. You’re gay. Let’s say that you are gay and you are in love with John Bowers. Let’s say that you’ve absorbed the words, the inherent meaning of love and life, and now it has its claws on you, now it is flying away with you in its grasp like a predator, and you are gay, and the essence of you belongs in John Bowers’ bed, with his essence inside of yours, but it’s fine, you’re happy regardless. You marry him, because this time around you get a second chance, and your parents attend your wedding, and Sheryl Trainor does not exist.
You love her. You really do.
John goes out and gets some cigarettes and picks a rose from a disappearing rose-bush. He hands it to you, and he hands you the cigarette, and the lighter, and you smoke it, and you imagine yourself as the ash. Where did the burns come from? Well, Larry. Well. Don’t worry about that, just keep inhaling the smoke, just keep staring at his hands.
You imagined, at some point, that this would end. You did not imagine that it would end
so horribly. You love him. God, you love him, and he wants you to make that choice like pressing a gun against your head, like asking you how you want to die, when you want to die, and what song you want playing as they bury you.
The light goes out. You continue flying. There are two separate lives and they are both out of reach.
You and your lover are in a bar inside of your mind and he is dying but dancing with you anyway.
This isn’t right. Can we go back?
Back from the intermission, back to the fire. You are falling. Actually, you don’t know that you are falling, but you are falling.
What you do remember is light.
Two Larrys: one wants to save you and the other wants to tear you apart. The Larry that wants to tear you apart has torn you apart and now lives inside of you like love but you don’t know it yet. You know that you are dangerous, you know that mouths are only gateways to hellfire and your mouth is cavernous and despicable, but this is a different kind of danger, this is your ugliness manifested into reality, this is who you really are, Captain Trainor, baby, this is who you really are, this is what you have always looked like, it is just more visible now.
Here is a list of things you left behind when your airplane crashed:
You tell him to go. He leaves; it does not look like an airplane.
First you lived in the garden, and you uncovered the first sin, this is your fault, yours and yours only. You are responsible for this sin and they are holding you accountable, the electricity pulsing into your charred flesh, you deserve it, and there is only one Larry now, only one. Except, wait, what is that? What is that?
Hold onto the suit. Hold on to its hand. You don’t know what it is; you are Larry. Don’t move a muscle, don’t burn up, until it brings you back from the dead. You were supposed to die, you should have died, and now this thing lives within you, and it is light but it is not like the kind of light they describe after death.
It is killing them. It is protecting you, or is it protecting itself?
You wonder what Sheryl will tell the children, if they’ll give you a grave, a funeral, something in your honor, but you know better. You still wonder this after Niles Caulder gets you out. Frees you from captivity. You still know better. The thing inside of you reminds you that you know better.
Let’s say that God is the space between you and the Negative Spirit, or the lack of space between you and the Negative Spirit. Here. You can be the space. You can watch it glow. You cannot hide it. You only want to be closer, you only want to hear its voice but it doesn’t talk. You have become a monster, and the monster has become you, listen. Just listen.
You’re in an airplane with a beautiful boy’s voice ringing in your ear, and you won’t tell him that you love him but you love him. And you feel like you’ve done something terrible, like loved a man, or refused to love a man, or crashed an airplane—-