Journal Entries of Dexter Tweed | loci.theduereturn.com
  








  









  
    

Journal Entries of Dexter Tweed

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The following writings have been transcribed from the written accounts of Dexter Tweed, which are collected in this archive.

I remember that he had a strange habit of speech, a sort of stutter by which he sometimes gave an uncomfortable pause after or before certain words as if he forgot what he was going to say or what was to come next. In Madripoor he killed a man. We never talked about that. It was before Barbara. He was different, kind of like himself in someone else’s clothes. He’d draw faces that seemed, in of themselves, constrained and fake; his own faces just pulled a little more tightly around the skull. He had made himself harder than he was and that only mad him angry. I don’t know why I remember this now, it was after all a different life for us.

I miss Madripoor. I miss a regular sea and the skirting crusts of land in the distance and the shrill cry of birds, the camaraderie of other ships, other shipmen and the slack or tight reign of different captains.

Our captain doesn’t speak much and reads French novels and grows sullen as a high school boy. I think all that stuff only brings people down. All that high art is about mistakes, mistakes like a man makes but, I mean, we already make our own. I guess this makes some people comfortable with themselves; it only makes our captain silent and bottomless and sad; I like stories about refusal and growing and expanse and drift.

The Captain quotes a dead man, “Dreamers follow men of action.” Great art teaches a man to justify himself, not to fend for himself, I mean that really takes a few kicks in the teeth.
Sometimes in the afternoons I ask Edith questions, I mean, if the winds are calm and not because I want to learn but, because I’m tired of opinion.

In Madripoor Cadmus was different, of course he was younger and less sure but, different like a man standing up, not who lulls in the dirt. I mean, he’s learned to lay down like a man lays down because he just wants to be nice. In Madripoor he’d complain and now he apologizes for nothing. I can’t tell but, I think he might be wiser.

He’s more focused now than he was expect just the same as ever in the evenings, I mean when the sun goes down he drinks more and smokes and gets less confident as do I, as does jakob; I think there is something terribly heavy and quickening and inescapable about the night. Its like being underwater but harder to breath in or swim. But, in the mornings and afternoons he can do anything and is bright and alert, as a sentinal, nothing escapes his notice or is of such intrigue he can’t think it out. He isn’t shy but, maybe, noble even and curious as a cat is. In Madripoor he was only shy or angry and would only sprout with questions in the presence of singular persons he knew well.

Of course he was always good at his job. Medicine, the diagnosis of symptoms, even the anatomy of animals. I saw him tie an artery up once, at sea. He sowed the guy up so fluidly it was like the animation of a procedure, flawless and without a thought.

-----

I love it when a man reaches up for a rope that’s not yet in range -- always standing up on tiptoes and, expectantly like a dog for it’s treat.

-----

When you’re not going anywhere you ask yourself a lot of pointless questions.
Rysdale shaves with a piece of plastic; sailor or not, an ocean without end is as good as anything without end, I mean useless. Here we have infinite shoals of fish and almost always a breeze but, nothing at all to drink.

-----

When it gets dark or people lose confidence they just want to talk. Its best, I think, just to let them. They don’t want answers or consolation or anything , they just want to think out loud. Wouldn’t matter even if you were deaf or a child or you only understood Latin. Nobody knows what they think about anything until they talk about it. Yesterday the captain was speaking to me about some nonsense, I mean some real nothing to the tune of regret and I drifted off past our eye contact. Suddenly, without any warning, I got sick all over his shoes, all over the deck. People don’t even care what faces you make so long as they get to talk.

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I think if someone wanted to be an angel, I mean just a real good sort, they’d have to have no friends, no brothers or aunts; nobody calling for questions or with opinions. I think you’d have to be all alone except for, maybe, if you went out for a drink or the get breakfast somewhere, I mean by yourself, you could really smile at everybody and never worry or grow resentful; I mean you could be someone who’d never get weary or dissatisfied; I snapped at Jakob when he asked me my opinion of a small picture he’d painted, “don’t fish wish me! Can’t you judge your own damn worth!?”
The afternoon just got grayer and grayer and the night was a maddening cicada.
The afternoon just got grayer and grayer and the night was a maddening cicada.

-----

The captain and Cadmus go on and on at dinner over the meaning of that French phrase Spleen. Edith says, “A deep depression of the spirits brought on by the realization of one’s own intense boredom.” I keep my mouth shut as the two argue it for some inane time.
Spleen is the sadness of knowing that everything, everything everywhere over is just like some other thing. Spleen is when wonder fades; like the outfits of friends in deep winter and in ecstatic spring; the same cups; spleen is a sad habit.

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In Madripoor Eddie smoked the shittiest cigars. When I first met him, when we struck up our friendship, I thought it was the worst quirk, one I thought I couldn’t ride out. I grew to love the smell of them, maybe that’s what friendship is, I mean putting up with someone because you’ve grown fond of it.

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Every one is so goddamned fragile, I mean you’ve got to be on your guard all the time and if you’ve got something to say, something heavy that’s surging back and forth in your mind like a noxious bilge you’d better expound it to a block of wood or a stone. It gets to the point where you’ve got to be really quiet so no one gets sad. That’s the worst, to speak your mind and watch them grow purblind and gray as afternoon light before a storm.

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People are going to complain about it. I mean, it doesn’t matter what it is. If you gave someone a lifetime of gold they’d hate the hue or its luster or the grade of its purity and, what’s worse, if you try and help anyone out they just get expectant, I mean like it’s owed them. If you really want to help someone out you’re best off just smiling a lot and letting them talk. Just don’t give anyone anything because they’ll only ask for more and when you haven’t got anymore they’ll treat you like you’re an asshole.

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If you really try to do as people ask, I mean do as they say; if its don’t talk about this or ask about that or, simply, leave me alone and you actually do it they’re going to throw it in your face eventually.

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Barbara was alright, I mean, she was real good company and quiet when that was what you wanted and she never had to ask about it or be told. When she was nervous or stressed she’d bite her upper lip and look right through you, out real far and distant. It really was charming after all, that half finger of hers.

-----

In the end, those that are going to be there aren’t who you’d expected. They’ll be gone, I mean the ones you’d expect: dead or fallen out with. It just works that way. I mean, when you find someone you really get on well with and shares your views or interests or whatever, they meet some woman and evaporate completely or they get drafted or they drown. It’s the familiar strangers that are with you, I mean co-workers, neighbors, a brother-in-law; no one you really ever thought much of.

-----

Sometimes I feel another person pass through my eyes; if suddenly they reign back inwards to search over my memories for an evidence or recollection of a name, a sound it’s Lyn; if they surfeit with their own light, Kathryn; vacant in thought of with nothing, Cadmus or the Captain. Sometimes I wonder who I am.

I reference myself to names, locations, being alone, I mean everything. A man is like a Cosmopolitan, a mixture of things. Often I’m baffled by my own actions, I mean its easy to say you’d do x y or z but, a lot of that is all nonsense --a lot of all that thought is just noble garbage because when x y or z comes up it’s like you’re someone else or no one at all; I don’t know.

-----

Drascher drown this afternoon. She conked her head bellow deck and drown face down in an ankle-deep bilge. Captain Banks found her and carried her up deskside himself. He was dry and waved like a mirage. Dracher’s eyes were open and opaque and wide, limp, glaring; she looked like a fish. Jakob got teary-eyed and and let out a deep low sound, as if he were trying to suck the whole world into him.

We wrapped her in burlap and set her down into the sea. She sank like a stone with a red string tied around it.

-----

Cadmus was sore about it all day, I mean Drascher’s death. No one, not even Cadmus himself, talked about it and Jr. made us feel eerie. You could tell he was upset, Cadmus, I mean that he was having some really deep emotions; his eyes would be bloodshot with sadness or anger. I think we’re all a little bored too and that really helps spread sadness around.

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Back in Madripoor we had more of a regular thing, I mean what with our job and Eddie and Ken; regular guys, regular stuff. Ken loved postage stamps, you know, not your everyday stamp but the real old ones, yellow stamps and stamps with a tea stained color; everyone is like that really though. Someone can go on and on about books or antique bottles or whores. Get people on their favorite subject and they’re like little Christmas trees and rehearsed carols about the things that get them off.

After a while nothing can make you raise an eyebrow anymore. Not that I’ve seen everything, I’ve just realized anything could be there.

Barbara, of course was the last straw, that milligram that snaps the ants legs. That strange crumby ship that never went anywhere, with its deep haul and its long nights when the bulbs dimmed down, I mean it was a real unusual sort of job.

And then, the night we heard shouts behind the reinforced door and Ken and Eddie tore it out of the wall with the rest of us just standing around and the turn then. It was the end of everything.
Captain Mason was at the door with his face like the face of a frog’s --slump, relaxed, green and blank. Mason had a flow of blood from his head that ran down his face like a tar. Barbara wretched as the Captain fell forward and for a while there was nothing, just the sound of a fire burning somewhere deep down in the ship. Then, there was a subtle sound building in bravado and tempo, the sound of something dragging or slithering and a sort of “thomp” of muted drums and, as the sound built, it was if the sound became more intense, more personal almost. It was a sound you felt with your whole body. There was a flood, then, of bodies but, nothing you could imagine; dolphin teeth and garden trowels. A Hundred of them maybe more and the grown over eyes of blind cave fish. Barbara was closest to them and I remember it being as if all her fingers, I mean those she had left, suddenly disappeared as if hidden beneath a napkin and those gray men swarmed around her legs before she vanished in the midst of them.

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Everyone has an antidote for everything and its all bullshit until you choose one to believe, and it doesn’t matter which, because when you decide to change that’s all there is, that’s it.

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Is anything really all that amazing, I mean give me news: the code of everything bound in some speck, crocodiles long as whales or civilized birds; what’s the point? It’s best, I think, when you don’t think so much, I mean why kick against the pricks? It so often makes them sharper and I am, myself, so much to deal with. Honestly, I came from somewhere and will also die eventually.

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Everyone is so strange. Jakob thinks about everything so deeply and says so little. Ken had a way of being so vague, you knew he was up to something but you never really knew what. With Eddie you always knew his worst stories, I mean his greatest debaucheries and nothing else what ever. I think I like Jakob’s sort best, I mean he’s there when it counts, bright and able but doesn’t waste a good moment with babble. He’s real economical. Not like the Captain or Cadmus who blather on and on over nothing or regret which is, itself, nothing. I hate it when someone goes on about how if they I were in charge… or if things were different, I mean everyone, I think, is prone to this hypochondria. What I mean is they’ve got to be unwell with something whether it be what went down forever and ever ago or some far away unjustice. I mean a lot of people, anyways, have got to be upset with something they aren’t close to or can’t change or are barely affected by, it’s a kind of epidemic with people.

-----

Some days Cadmus goes into reveries over his dreams. He wants so much to find a meaning in them, so real divine insights but, that’s all shit. There is only repose and desire and nightmare, real golems made from all that junk in our brains, I mean memories. If anything makes them great it’s that when we dream we don’t think.

How many times have I wished Eddie was here or Lyn and I too, after all, miss that delicate little half finger of Barbara’s.