Letters From Home: Bobby and Bob

A digitally painted Black and White photograph of a house in a housing project in Charleston South Carolina named for white supremacist, John C. Calhoun
This is a photo of a house in John C. Calhoun Homes, a housing project named for white supremacist, John C. Calhoun. I lived in this house when I was a kid.

 

In the 1980’s most of my alternates were as
active as they are now.

They used performance writing as a cover.

To other people they were characters.

Though our username was Rob Goldstein, by the late
1980’s the dominant alternate was Bob.

Bob carries anger and depression.

Bob was certain he’d die from AIDS.

In 1988, when Bob tested negative for HIV, his reaction
was fear and bitterness.

His function in life was dying.

Bob had already written his suicide as a character
named Loleeta, who is almost a separate alternate.

Bobby carries our hopes and dreams.

He can watch the family from inside and Bobby
was confused: if the body isn’t dying, why does Bob
want to die?

Bobby wrote a letter to Bob in late 1988 and started
a correspondence.

He had also placed a hidden penknife on Bob’s nightstand.

Bob found it and thought it was something he’d lost. He
also found the letter on his desk and thought he was
writing in his sleep.

As with the penknife that Bobby left out for Bob, I discovered a
large stash of writing in October of 2010.

I read the Letters from Home but didn’t understand what
they were about or how to edit them.

They make sense now.

I am the Narrator.  My job is to make sense of our story.

As strange as it sounds, I have a Father’s affection for Bobby.

He will always believe that God has work for us.

He will always do what he must to keep our faith alive.

#illustration #VirtualReality #secondlife, #virtualworlds
Letters From Home – Bobby

Letters From Home


Bob feels bad.

Diarrhea is caused by fear; he’s read that somewhere.

His tiny room stinks of sweat and stale cigarette smoke.

Oh, the danger of all that smoke and what it’s done to his lungs; oh, the danger that Xanax will do for him what Valium had done to Rosemary Clooney.

Morning for Bob is 4PM. He wakes and has his first cup of coffee. He wakes and has his second. He wakes and has his third.

Bob flops into bed and thinks. About bitches, boredom, and trendy
cynicism. About sensitive poets sucking their way to anonymous
fame.

A 4PM as black as night.

He takes three more Xanax and sleeps.

 

Photoshopped virtual phtograph of a male avar used as an illustration for Letters From Home
Bob flops into bed and thinks

He wakes and finds a penknife on top of a handwritten note:

Dear Bob,

I got this penknife from my Dad. I think it’s a treasure ’cause it’s full
of love. I want you to have it ’cause I love you. You might remember
me as a friend.

I think you need to start eating apples, dude.

That penknive is good at slicing apples.

Love Bobby.

Bob throws the penknife into the trash. Then he sits
at the laptop and writes:

Dear Bobby,

I’ve wanted a pen knife ever since I was that little fag.

At that time, I kept wax models of movie monsters on
my bed stand to protect me from the human monsters
outside.

Have you considered writing a real friend, someone
whose grief won’t spoil your soul?

Sincerely,

Bob.

 

virtual reality avataar that depicts and adolescent male of about 16 as an illustration for Letters from Home
I watch the birds or smell the ocean and think something wonderful has happened

Bobby’s letter is bright is full of reconciliation.

Dear Bob,

I’m at Battery Park where I go to when I want to figure things out.

I watch the  birds and smell the ocean and think something
wonderful has happened.

When I feel the rain it feels like everything magic!.

I guess I like to talk to older dudes because they’ve got things
more figured out.

I bet you have stuff figured out, right?

Yesterday Mom was drunk again.

Do you remember my Mom’s problem?

Do you remember we talked about how the real problem is she
thinks she don’t have one?

I try to help her but all she says is laters.

Love,

Bobby
4PM at on a hot September day at the Laundromat on 16th Street and Mission Street; a toddler screams and Bob’s skin crawls.  He takes a Xanax and writes:

Dear Bobby,

I’m may stuff a nerve wracking  baby into a hot drier; it sounds like your Mother needs to dry out too. Charleston must be a beautiful town; I’ve read that it reeks of Magnolia and racism. It’s nice that they let the poor visit parks like the Battery. Science will eventually discover that everything is magic. Why do you write to me? I’m a hateful
old man.

Sincerely,

Bob

In the early 1960’ss a bacteria infected the Spanish moss in Charleston. Bobby has watched the Spanish moss vanish from the tall oak trees that line Battery Park. An old woman shares a bag of peanuts with the squirrels. Bobby jots her down in his notebook. Then he writes another letter to Bob:

Dear Bob,

I just read a bunch of books about astrology. You’re a Scorpio. These books say Scorpio is a dark and passionate sign. They say we’re shamans and can turn dark into light.

I’m back at Battery Park and there’s a sweet old woman hand feeding a squirrel.

It’s hard to make a frightened creature trust you.

How come when I say I believe in magic adults say grow up..

 Do you still believe in magic?

Love,

Bobby

The cruising was vicious last night. Bob watched the boys dance at the End-Up and wondered what sign they were. He stumbled home at 2 and took enough Xanax for 12. He woke at 4 and had his third cup of coffee.

He wrote a reply to Bobby.

A Male avatar that depicts an older somehwat grimy man who is poor and possibly homeless

Dear Bobby,

We think of children in terms of potential.

When children believe in magic, we call them imaginative; when adults believe in magic, we call them devout.

Sincerely,

Bob

 

Virtual Reality Avatar used as an illustation for Letters from Home
Two women tweaked out on dexys had a fistfight today.

Two women had a fist fight in front of Bobby’s house that day.

They were tweaked on dexys.

They called each other names and chased each other around the courtyard.

Bobby watched from the porch and wrote Bob:

Dear Bob,

Sorry it took so long for me to write but I thought you didn’t want to hear from me no more. I thought you was being polite in that way adults are sometimes polite to kids by being rude.

Two women beat each other up in the Courtyard today. They called each other a whore- dyke-bitch and how one of them said ‘I can buy and sell you!’

I gotta laugh when poor folks say shit like that cause everyone knows we’re slaves.

Momma says they was fighting over a man.

Do queers in San Francisco fight over men in public?

We can’t even look at each other here.

I bet it’s nice to hold your boyfriend’s hand in public.

Bob, why are you so unhappy!

You sound like you got no hope.

Maybe your planets are outta wack!

Astrologers say that when your planets go outta whack things get crazy

Love and Friendship,

Bobby

Bob was too high to read all Bobby’s letter. He tossed it into the trash but decided to reply:

Dear Bobby,

I’m fucked up and listening to Aretha’s Gold.

I wanted sex but got high instead and decided to answer
your little letter.

Did you know a drag queen won the Barbie doll lookalike contest?

Is it a coincidence that when I toss an r into your name it’s Borbbie.

See-Saw—Life is like a see-saw baby .

What Aretha really wants is Respect.

But if a woman has to beg for this from men what about us poor faggots:
men
once removed?

There is nothing like cutting to make me feel like one of God’s hated children, Borbbie.

I flop on my bed, a bloody wrist draped over my eyes.

I imagine my sufferings are  those of a great artist; a dying drama queen.

One day you’ll grow up to know how this feels.

Bob

Bobby read Bob’s letter and hid it with the rest.  He knew he had to do something.

Dear Bob,

When I was little I believed in ghosts.

I thought we had the bones of an old woman stashed in the attic.

One day I threw a chewed up old chicken bone up there and begged Daddy to go up  and look.

He said it was nothing but a chewed up old chicken bone but I knew it was the leg of that old woman.

When I was little, I slept with a wax devil’s head on one side of my bed and a picture of Jesus on the other side; I wanted to get in good with both.

When I was little, I opened a medical book backwards and saw pictures of a baby shrink down to a dot. It was years before I figured out that ain’t how folks die.

I tell you these stories to remind you of the magic, to make you remember faith because faith and faith in God’s magic is all we got.

I know what a drama queen is and sometimes they die for attention.

I can’t let you kill us.

You gotta stop dying.

You gotta go away.

Love,

Bobby

 

Avatar portrait that represents a character in the blog post, Letters from Home
Portrait of Matthew, born,  January, 1989.

 

(c) Rob Goldstein 2016 All Rights Reserved

 

 

 

 

 

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25 thoughts on “Letters From Home: Bobby and Bob

      1. It’s the small, almost offhand comments that lead to insight. When I think of the alternates I see them in separate bodies.

        It is odd to believe and disbelieve something simultaneously.

        I suppose that describes what it means to hold a semi-delusional belief.

        One knows the truth but believes what is untrue.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. When I read of Bobby and Matthew, the Narrator et al it is also so easy to consider them as separate people, but, no. They are splinters of your mind that take the body Hostage in times of trauma or perhaps when they want to. They can write to each other just as the facets of my character and mind dialogue in a manner in which I am more aware. They can, however choose which fragment sees and knows what.

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  1. Thank you for sharing the dialogue, the pictures, and the history. After a friend of mine from high school died at 30 (or 31) of AIDS, I moved from SF Bay Area to SoCal (actually, his death triggered the beginning of a months-long breakdown). I had too many friends dying and it ate at my soul. Too much pain.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t directly remember it but I know that a part of me carries terrible grief. It’s what I’m working on in therapy and have the usual symptoms of depression along with panic attacks and headaches…

      It’s hard and exhausting work…

      Thanks for your support.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. My burden…I don’t know. When I read your blog I wonder how you manage. The ups and downs and still meeting the responsibilities that come with being a adult.

        I don’t know that my burdens are any heavier. I think is may be more that I’m reaching some kind of new phase of life…maybe I’ve changed in relation to the burden. It’s no heavier than anyone else. It feels heavier because I’m not as strong — or I don’t feel as strong.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’ve taken alot of down time right because our politics in the States makes me feel crazy. I always have this response when people behave abusively and are allowed to get away with brazenly lying about it. I can see no difference between Trump and his supporters and the alcoholic men who beat their wives and children in the housing projects of Charleston. And then we have the proud racism and anti-antisemitism. I said to my therapist yesterday that I’ve spent a lifetime trying to get away from the drunken racists of my childhood and for awhile I thought I had. Now they are everywhere and every last one of them makes the same arrogant assertion: that their irrational hatreds are caused by people who step out of line; that if ‘those’ people would get back to their ‘place’ we can all live in peace. There are days when I disconnect my router and just use the computer to watch DVD’s. It’s the only way to survive until this election is over, and if Trump wins who knows. My therapist says that many of her patients have the same reaction. That regardless of how it feels the threat is not the same; it is not as imminant. But it feels imminent. And that is exhausting.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s nothing short of amazing to me that your alternates wrote to each other. And Charleston as “magnolias and racism”. I remember feeling that way. And I was a middle aged white woman, from Yankee territory. The bias was tangible. A very candid peek into your mind here, Robert.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It’s amazing to me too. It’s amazing to know that somewhere beyond my awareness an adolescent boy watches what I do. I did not know how to edit this when I first found it and even after I felt I understood it I had a hard time with it. I had to stop at least four times because of panic attacks. I don’t know if this piece has any literary value…but I do know that it represents something extraordinary about the human mind. All of us have brains that can do this given the right circumstances and I suspect that the great actors and actresses are able to dissociate at will. Thank you for your comment. I’m a bit slow right now because I’m in the middle of a whopping depression.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I know what you mean. This is not influenced by surrealism. This is is a real correspondence between Bobby and Bob and Matthew was the result of it. That’s why it closes with a portrait of Matthew’s avatar . I linked the letters and provided the setting. I’m lucky to have the original drafts of most of this stuff because as it turns out the original drafts work best.

        Like

  3. I cannot imagine the pain that has followed you through life….and at the same time, marvel that there was still room for magic and faith. A brave write. Images are stunning.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for your comment. There are two kinds of AIDS survivors. Men who have the virus and men who don’t. I think many of us who survived the epidemic have scars that cut much deeper than we know. It wasn’t just the Epidemic. It was watching the Reagan Administration say nothing as young men died horrible and frightening deaths. It was grieving while rich white evangelicals gloated. It was the unspoken suspicion that it might be God’s judgement after all. The generation of Gay men that started the gay liberation movement put their lives on the line because they believed in the American idea all people are equal before the law. Most of my peers died…But my faith God and the human spirit survived.

      Liked by 3 people

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