New Kicks with Which to Kick Buckets
© by Milland B. Cello (a.k.a spase)
Felix was loud in general. Whether his amplification was the product of one or many factors – having been raised by a screaming mother and a lifetime of drumming in various garage bands are a couple that come to mind – the fact remains that his voice carried far further than his dampened, smoke-filled ears could detect. And especially when he was excited, surrounded by friends and alcohol in some public social setting, recounting some blatant injustice or just a random hilarious interaction he had witnessed on the way there, Felix’s vocal chords would begin to resonate ever so increasingly, like an orchestral climactic build-up. Although he couldn’t sense the phenomena with his ear holes, he had learned from the reactions of others, and even though he wrestled to subdue his words down to what he was sure was his lowest setting short of “whisper”, someone would always relay what everyone else had noticed and ask Felix to keep his voice down.
All of this ceased to embarrass Felix, no matter the topic of his particular tirade, but he usually couldn’t help but grow confused and frustrated.
Knowing Felix and his legendary volume meant knowing how to interpret his silence. If one of his close friends was aware that Felix was in the same ZIP code, let alone the same house, and several minutes had passed sans-oratory evidence, it was safe to assume something was wrong. Indeed, such gaps in the siren of Felix’s megaphone of a larynx were a fail-safe indication that he was injured – physically or otherwise. And in contrast to the petty woes of stubbed toes or tickled funny bones, which would evoke blood-curdling blasphemy, Felix’s uncustomary silence was induced by only the most serious pain and gravest near-death-ery.
Call it a survival tactic of the self-destructive.
When, in his years as a carpenter for example, Felix bonked his shin on an inexpertly placed piece of lumber, or dropped his pencil off of a roof for that matter, an untamable shitstream of flailing “FUCK-SHIT-COCKSUCKER”s was the result. His coworkers grew accustomed to his colorful jeers, which wasn’t such a stretch, if at all in the construction trade.
But later the same day, when Felix was cutting with his skillsaw a member of a wall brace that was nailed to the sub-floor, and the blade hit a nail and bound-up, driving the saw effortlessly backward, unlocking his elbow with the force and momentum of inevitability, and it climbed up his boot in slow motion to stop at the laces, Felix was as silent as the imagined flow of blood bubbling out of the jagged gash in his brand-new work boot. He removed it to find an identical void in his sock, and removed that to find all his toes exactly where they had been when he awoke that morning – unscathed. He went right back to work, the only sound ever being uttered of the incident coming from the saw’s dialogue with the nail.
No one but Felix knew what had happened to his boot until years later when, after having bought new boots the day before shooting his hand with a nailgun, he told me both stories as he cursed the concept of new footwear, still managing to curse the male nurse at the clinic who was digging around at his palm with syringes and tweezers, chit-chatting about Iraq.
Even when blood did spill out of the holes he made in himself, Felix was sonically stoic. One day at quarter to four – roll-up time – he began to make his way down a staircase, one arm filled with air hoses and random bullshit and the other dangling a reciprocating saw with a twelve-inch blade. He got tripped-up on a knotted extension cord and, in righting himself, managed to get stuck in the calf with one-third of the blade. Now, even though pain-wise this feeling was on par with lesser folly worthy of his trademark lung-cannons, Felix instantly intuited the implications of his particular predicament, and as he anticipated the warming of his soon-to-be red sock, all that escaped his lips was an inaudible “uh oh”.
Without another breath he made his way unhurriedly down to the job trailer, hung the hoses and bullshit on a hook, and locked the bloody saw in the toolbox. His boss followed the trail of blood in bewildered horror to find Felix opening the first-aid kit and mumbling something under his breath about a motherfucking piece of shit extension cord.
Luckily the gnarly teeth of that cumbersomely long blade had missed his Achilles tendon by 1/16 of an inch – or “a teenth” in the least vulgar of construction terms – but if it weren’t for the trail of brand-new bloody waffle-sole footprints, no one would have ever known; something about a tree falling in the woods.
Due to a previously acquired and perpetually reinforced superstition about replacing shoes, Felix rocked those blood-caked “Old Skools” until the day he traded-in his toolbags and hammer for a laptop and a mouse, and in his decision to swap building houses for designing them, he was determined to limit his job-related injuries to carpal tunnel syndrome and possibly his ass falling asleep.
The strategy proved successful, but its benefits would not spill over into his personal life marked by recreational and other non work-related bodily harm.
The last new shoe Felix ever got was the retarded robotic-looking medical boot assigned to his right ankle after arthroscopic surgery. He had worn one before on his other ankle after a similar skateboard stunt gone awry, and thus was aware that the physical therapy needed to teach his spine to be straight after four months of walking around in that lump of turd would last longer than that of his ankle’s recovery. The thing was fucking awkward. The sole of it was half-again as long as his even swollen foot and it went snug up to his knee pit, pinching his hamstring and resigning him to hobbling about like a peg-leg with one concrete cross-country ski.
he would fail to swing his hip around wide enough to meet him at his next step
and he fell, most often up stairs. But
falling UP stairs is relatively harmless, so the clumsy maneuver was always
accompanied by a preemptive swearing slur of acoustical abomination.
But the night Felix fell through the mirrored sliding closet door at Johanna Nelson’s New Year’s party, he must have realized that the ankle boot counted as a new shoe, and his silence must have been absorbed into the glass as he collided with his reflection, because nobody heard a thing. When Johanna’s little sister, Erin, opened the bedroom door a few minutes later to freshen-up one last time before the ball dropped, Felix had already bled-out all over the unnecessarily full shoe rack that had fallen from his intrusion into the closet. The scream she let out more than compensated for his silence and we all hurried in to see how big the spider that must have startled her really was.
A chunk of mirror, or one of them rather, had slid down in the frame and effectively corked Felix’s trachea, rendering obsolete any sound he may have attempted in the minute or so it took his femoral artery to empty any blood left in him after so many years of smaller holes. This led some to believe he spent his last moments screaming soundlessly in vain for their help, but I knew Felix. I knew that, in life, his desire to die was barely surpassed by his lack of ambition or initiative. When I approached the lifeless, peaceful heap of shattered reflections and potentials, I realized the calm of his expression aimed at his right ankle, and I imagined his brain hadn’t needed a trachea to amplify his final mutterings – something about a motherfucking piece of shit new boot – and I knew he died as confused and frustrated and deflated as the last time some friend had asked him to keep his voice down at some bar. His eternal silence is profanely louder now than any chord his noise-box of a voice-box ever did strike – And he is lucky because no one can politely tell Felix to shut the fuck up ever again.
R.I.P. Felix (Brandin, Sam, Tim, Woody, Beeb, Guru, etc......)