The End of the Year is the Eyes of a Deer Playing Dead on the Side of the Road

by Serge Bielanko

He came out of the mist, smoking a cigarette, hacking his lungs out, but smiling. No one paid him much mind. No one cared.

Who cares, right?

Who has that kind of time?


My older two are at the kitchen island flipping the pieces of the Zingo game they got for Christmas all over the place. I'm standing there, third cup of coffee, staring at them. I get tired of trying to tell them how to live right. I can only tell other living people how to act or be so many times across any given half-hour stretch before I lose interest.

What's the goddamn difference? I repeat myself. I say the same shit over and over again until it has no meaning, until it loses any sparkle it might have had when it was born a few seconds ago in the delivery room of my idiotic mind. Blah blah blah. After a while you have to recognize that tried and true love is way bigger than the dumb stuff you go around saying. The dreams I have for them, the hopes/the lingering fears/my inability to comprehend their mere in-my-face existence on a very very regular basis/the way I would scoop out the eye of the man or woman who would ever hurt them bad, God forbid/the way they would describe it all in court/me sitting there in the orange prison get up/some lawyer getting all loud and affected as he describes how I used a teaspoon to separate the eyeball from the socket of the son-of-a-bitch who did what he did and how I stuffed my old Waylon Jennings t-shirt in his worthless mouth to keep him quiet as I made him watch me (with his crybaby good eye) as I swallowed his severed eyeball like a Rappahannock oyster/down the hatch/Silence of the fucking Lambs grin/out in the parking lot of the mall where I'd tracked him down. Or in the parking lot of his job. Or wherever dude.

I get sidetracked.

I shut off my good Dad bitching halfway through the morning not because my own tired words start making my mouth taste like puke, but because I stand there watching them throwing the game pieces around and fighting each other over stupid crap, their elbows slamming into the breakfast dishes, their forearms hitting spots of pancake syrup, and it dawns on me that I'm never ever going to be able to come up with some string of hollered sentences that turn it all around, you know?

I'm drowning in love. There's nothing I can say. The parenting advice and the gentle guidance and the positive reinforcement and the yakety yak don't come back, it's nothing but steam rising up from the ghost of a train. I'm trapped under love. I'm buried beneath the rubble of the collapsed city of everything. I'm imprisoned. I'm a POW up to his neck in kid swamp. But look. I'm still here, bigger/stronger/better now: because of all of this.

Fight it out. This morning they can just fight it out themselves and let the chips fall where they may. They don't need me all up in their shit all the time.

They know who I am.

They know I will eat the raw oyster eye of a man if need be.

I pour cup #4. Bitter morning coffee. I am a king, you know? I am a king of kings blocking out the sound of these two jokers with piss coffee and a banana smeared with peanut butter. This is it. This is the day before New Year's Eve. And we're happy as pigs in shit over here. I'm dead serious.

We are- I'll have you know- doing just fine.


This new car I got, another Honda, it does this weird thing every now and then during track 4 of The Cure's Wish CD. That's From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea if for some strange reason you didn't know that. I hit the brakes at the end of the narrows road, at the stop sign by the fast road cutting up the valley, and the volume on the tune lowers itself a couple notches.

I look in the rear view to see if Violet or Henry clocked the sound fail but they didn't. They're staring out the window at the grey woods and the dead corn stubble without any expressions. It's all so Cure. I sit there at the stop sign for a second watching them. I watch their little eyes looking out at the land. I wish I could slip up their nose holes and see what they see, or see what they see how they see it. We see the same shit, I know, but I always figure they must see it better than me. Wholer. Purer. With van Gogh color. With Renaissance light.

I'd give a rib bone to see these old winter mountains through their eyes. I don't know what it says to them. The Cure at 9 in the morning on a Christmas break day at a stop sign in the middle of nowhere, what do they see?

There's a riff in the song, keeps circling around, comfortable, menacing, I 'm not sure how you'd describe it. Whatever/you can't describe riffs/it's dumb. But this riff, I wonder if they love it. I wonder if they are feeling it in their skin right this second. Is it possible? Is it possible I could have presented at least one of them with a gift riff out of nowhere this morning? Is it possible that I maybe play a song on the ride to their Grammy's that sticks with them forever, or that they somehow stumble into years from now again and suddenly remember me in some beautiful way?

Could this riff boomerang back into one of their heads in 2027 and let them smell their daddy's smoky/pepper jerky/sour coffee smell from long ago while they're out there living their lives, maybe riding on the Tube in London or digging dinosaur bones in some red clay canyon somewhere across the fucking world?

Is that possible?

Why does the sound lower itself at the same point in this song on my factory issue car stereo? And why do I forget all about that at the stop sign? Why do I look in the rear view and see them staring at the world and forget everything I was thinking? Don't answer that. Don't tell me it could be electrical or whatever. That's not what I'm asking.

I'm dead serious.

I don't even care about the volume thing at all.


Every New Year's Eve is basically a shit show. I don't plan anything anymore. I blow myself out with Christmas. I have a note taped to the coffee can starting at Thanksgiving. It says 'E.O.S.' That means Elf On the Shelf. I don't give a damn if you hate that Elf. I love it. I get into it. I never fuck up. I see the note: I move the Elf before they wake up. I feel involved. I get off on Christmas, on the mythological magic and on fake plastic poinsettias.

Then it's all over and that's a bit of a problem for me.

By New Year's I'm smoking a cig in the post-coital glow of a very hard shag. I've got nothing left. I like Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin. I'll watch Dick Clarke maybe. He'll be on. He'll find a way.

I want to say goodbye to the year in some romantic way but I just can't be bothered. Survivors we are and we all deserve to live it up, I'm sure, but I'm tired, man. I'm out of breath. I'm feeling good but I'm feeling out of it. I'd share my evening with you but what would even do, you know?

I'd let some cheese cubes fall out of the palm of my hand, plopplopplopplopplop soft bricks landing on a plastic dish. I'd bring them over to you with a cold beer maybe. Or whatever you want.


Wine or beer?

That's all I've got actually. So that's your big choice.


Or beer?

You want some shrimp? I've got shrimp. They were frozen once, I'm sure. I got them at the grocery store. Probably raised in some weird shrimp pond somewhere in Alabama or Mexico or something. Look at them. So dead, so pink. They were probably frozen and then thawed a little and then got frozen again. That happens, you know. Things freeze, unfreeze, freeze up again, we never know the difference. We never can quite tell what parts of our world are partially frozen/dancing with death at any given time, I guess.

Anyways, we could drag dead pink shrimp through cocktail sauce from a jar and watch CNN and drink beer or wine. We could laugh. We could bang pots and pans out in the street. I'd probably insist on that. Or we could go to bed at 11:24pm.

I've done it both ways/I don't even care.

New Years Eve is easy.

You just gotta let it happen. I mean, it's happening anyhow.

All of this life, all of this love and sadness and fear and mad rejection and disappointment. All of this ungodly torment hailing down on our naked bodies like garlic hissing cross a pan. All of this Earthly bullshit clouding up our vision, blocking our view of things beautiful and pure.

You just gotta let it happen, I think. I really think I believe that now. I really do. Hey, you know what? You know what? I'm not scared anymore. I'd only be scared at this point if I didn't admit that I wasn't scared anymore. I'm over it. The year does things to you. It did stuff to me.

The songs turn themselves down now. The kids stare at the dreary sky. The coffee is gross and that's exactly how I like it.

He came out of the mist, smoking a cigarette, hacking his lungs out, but smiling. No one paid him much mind. No one cared. 

Except a couple of people. A couple people cared. And that was enough. That was enough for another year. That was enough for all the years left.

Hell, that was more than enough.