Poor Young Teddy Gore



Chanced to Be Found A-Rocking He, Poor, Poor Young Teddy Gore

Draped in a blanket of subliminality
I watched the stars dance, tonight to the beat of bullets with butterfly wings
And listened to acapella lullabies
Sung to the mid-October air
As dew drops laced the horizon
And I begged the Sun…..to rise

Fogged eyes and long-spoken goodbyes
Kiss the edge of tonight
And listen to the stars sing back.

Humbled by all around me
And taken back by what is still hidden
Times stands still
And nothing really matters because tonight
Is, by all accounts, my last.

[Anonymous, Found on the Internet]

March 3, 1983: She calls it 'rocking', the thing I do just about every night-I have to. I'm on my back, in my bed, right next to a wall of my mom's room-she's lucky, nothing wakes her up, except maybe my rocking, I guess. IT…..does me, though, keeps me awake, from the hallway. I can hear IT, so I move my head, side to side, faster and faster so my ears get covered up and the noises go away if I keep going. The monkey's noises, that is. I have to keep going and I do, she says, even in my sleep…..rocking keeps IT away from my bed.

September 21, 1984: I remember her telling me, sort of singing it to me when I was maybe 2 or so, over and over, different times: 'monkeys jumping on the bed', and, then, they fall off the bed and bump their heads….and, the doctor said……the doctor said, after there was one left, 'put that monkey back in the bed'. Back in the bed, MY bed! And, she wasn't even mad or upset that there was going to be that monkey thing in my bed…that scared me and made me think she thought it was OK for some wild thing to be in my bed……

November 13, 1984: She just doesn't understand and I can't tell her…..everything, that is; I can't tell anyone, really. Not about the dreams, with her in them. They scare me; she scares me, like when she's leaning hard on top of me, shaking me, sort of, then, I start shaking too and kind of wet the bed. I hear other boys talking about this, whispering sort of, but I hear them, so I know I'm not alone, but, still, they're creepy, weird and I don't want them to come back.

January 28, 1985: I read a story today at school that sort of reminded me of IT-it's by Edgar A. Poe, about a monkey or something like it, starts with an 'o', can't even spell or say it right; anyway, this thing kills these two women in Paris, France and no one can find out why they got killed because no money or anything else is stolen or anything like that and there's a lot of gold coins left behind. IT made me think about how they must have felt, those women, before IT got them. IT tore them up pretty bad, stuffed one of them up a fireplace chimney!

February 3, 1985: I'm scared because my mom wakes me up after I finally get to sleep and I always think it's the monkey but it's her face, right above mine, her hands on my chest, keeping me from rocking. And, then, she'll invite me to sleep in her bed, and I want to but I don't, really, I can't cause she'll know, when I get up that I wet my pants and the bed; it's bad enough when she changes the sheets that I have to go through it all again, explaining so she won't know the details, even though she should know, understand, she's a grown up; I sometimes feel like my Dad must have, when she would get all mad and make him explain things he didn't want to. I wish he were here, now, to help me with….her.

As he paused, a halting teardrop overwhelmed his eyes' feeble ductile levy, lachrymose betrayal of a, now, ancient invisible scar of the mind, one which had marked two different victims deeply, him as his juvenile diaries struggled to document-a needful thing he had to let out, if only onto the prepubescent page.

It dripped onto the unread page below of the many private pages still in his head and caused the long-dried red ink of a schoolboy to blur, it seemed, in league with his watery onlookers.

How many youthful nights had he drawn out owing to fearful uninvited wilding thoughts and images until sleep had made its heavy ultimatum felt--how many such nights had he heard IT snorting with heaving wet breath, both like and unlike any dog he had ever known, lurking, drawing ever nearer his restless bed?

That tale of primal murder had brought it all alive again--the lunging creature bent on his mutilation and then the brute's desecration of his limp corpse laying there, in that blood-soaked bed of a grave to-be, there, in his mother's house, with her just inches away, her house to be a reprise of what had happened in the Rue Morgue.

He gasped, his cold sweat mocking the warm evening's air enveloping the front porch, his liminal protective space in the now of early adulthood's first decade, seated on his mother's antique carved rocker with the inlaid carved jade faces.

His mind's ear replayed his dreamy urging, 'more rouge', as a too familiar succubus seemed to writhe commandingly, impending Jocasta to his confused, blind-sided Oedipus.

'Enrouged, not enraged'--a poignant bit of wordplay from an, at last, more playful inner voice he was summoning the best therapy he knew, his grimace slowly becoming an attempted smile. It felt good to feel good after having battled for so long so potent a battalion of puerile woes. Now, he was a witty young Hamlet, being cruel to his mother only to be kind, to himself.

Maybe the extended Freudian sessions he had endured wouldn't need to go on-ten years was enough, especially when you're not some hysterical Austrian hausfrau, he concluded, still feeling the after effects of the genuine grin that had finally taken hold of his long grim face. Dr. Pendergast had worked diligently, resorting to an entire glossary of clinical devices to draw Teddy Gore out of the extended childhood which had become his living purgatory. Even Dr. Pendergast sometimes, along with Leonard Bernstein, had wished that "Dr. Freud, Dr. Freud,…… had been differently employed", quoting from the musical play he had renamed 'Dark Side Story', a left-handed compliment to murky old Sigmund.

Yet, through it all, Teddy had, it seemed to all, emerged from his too-long dark sleepless nightmare of the soul a stronger man-that was it, really: he had belatedly gotten a firmer grip on the hands of adult maleness. Dr. Pendergast had officially declared as much to Teddy's insurer in the measured tone of the always ironically bloodless medical report: 'Episodic remission of patient's somnolescence dysfunction with acute aural hallucinatory complexes has now resolved overall nominally with low probability of recurrence, with prescribed regimen and Rx.'

In other words, 'our sessions-and your medical benefits--have run out.'

It was the zoological encounters Teddy had taken to, over time-- a strategy of 'face your fear' at its most graphic and tactile; Pendergast was sure there was a reality show producer somewhere who might want to exploit its potential for masochism, but he thought it well worth the risk.
Ultimately, while monitored remotely, yet close by, Teddy had spent time in isolation with an adult orangutan. Poe had, he found, held up the exceptional, abused captive ones of the species as fear's very badge, all in the name of art. Its docile sweetness did, however, bring on a bout of melancholy in Teddy, struck as he was by the tragic irony embodied by this creature he had equated for so long with his younger personal extinction now, owing to indifferent human hands only technically connected to their hearts, approaching its own exit from this world.

And, still, IT did sometimes pursue him.

"You're as healthy as science can make you" was the equivocal sendoff to what Teddy sensed was his first step on the primrose decorated lane to doom. His doctor of psychology-the very name of the so-called science had been dusted off history's ancient shelf of wisdom-hoarding deities blamed for all mortal lack of understanding of what remained an unknown human Psyche-was often as stuck as Teddy was, maybe more so; at least Teddy could admit it. But the headshrinker, he was left to the only strategy he'd been taught by older disciples of quasi-scientific gospel: just wallpaper over the rough spots in the supporting walls of this rickety construct we've thrown together, stuffing the supports with all the hopeless confessionals from the leather couch, and be sure and insulate them with that pricey vellum stuff, also known as sheepskin. Call IT by its Latin name, ID, and just hope and pray that whatever the damnable 'thing' is takes on the properties of tame sheep; next patient, please.

She was dying, slowly and Teddy, her only child had stayed on through community college, taking time off to caretake from plans to move on toward the culminating steps into that adulthood whose door he had just, warily, opened. While her antiques business wasn't much now, it was her, their sole asset and means of sustenance. It was important to maintain the business technically at least for health insurance needs they both had had in abundance.

In her heyday she had been a prominent antiquities dealer, the biggest on Cape Cod and second only to the NY houses on the East coast. One item had particular sentimental value for her, a hand-carved rocker said to have belonged to a tribal shaman of the Ivory Coast; it was at least 150 years old, she had confirmed. The jade was itself quite rare, and was carved with various stylized visages associated with the tribe's primate deity, a god named 'Idicombo'. What the white world called ghosts were very real entities to Alistare's tribe-Alistare had been the shrewd African purveyor, himself descended from mixed parents, one Arab, one African and even this seemingly benign fact, if true, he used to bargaining advantage, quipping: "I am best of both worlds, yes, master and servant, hmmm?!" He insisted on being known by just the one name, as though he were some dark Caesar in need of no other name to be recognized in his vaunted position throughout this realm of artful arcana.

Teddy recalled that he would punctuate his verbal display with a haunting rendition of Geoffrey Holder, laughing like the voodoo doctor in the cheesy Bond film, 'Live and Let Die', as though Holder the entity still lived, in him; these entities, the 'cadada', he expounded, growing deadly serious, even pale, did not so much inhabit a place or thing as change it, alter its essence so thoroughly that it was in a fittingly ephemeral way new to the world of the 'chendendi', the material.

This rocker evinced such ornamental animism that the customarily prudent assessors of such objet d'art had certified in writing that the chair, when rocked, gave off an audible alive-sounding respiratory grunting.

"Romantic old-school cache" Teddy's mother had scoffed, consigning this tall tale to the all-male ilk's club, replete with mounted heads of wild beast adorning their otherwise seeming civilized lodges and dining halls; she mockingly added her own legend, that the thing rocked itself, doubtless in the thrall of its very own patron god. Teddy knew that this most uncommercial gesture was code for 'I'm keeping it'.

And, now, almost habitually fighting off sleep--this time, for the pedestrian excuse that she needed her pain killers again, soon--he felt, in that insubstantial middle no-place dividing waking and fullest slumber, a distinct impulse of gradually animated rocking……drowsily opening one eye, he saw his feet where he had perched them, he thought-atop the porch railing. The chair was, however, not 'grunting', as he anticipated, having believed the male version of things animistic. Crickets sent their frantic calls without competition, human or….otherwise.
As Teddy decided to raise, his left foot fell to the ground, involuntarily, he was sure.
Coarse, ponderous, thumb less hands surrounded his throat powerfully preventing precious breath from attaining its hungry destination.

Teddy raised his, now, flailing arms to self-rescue, his hands grasping improbably small forearms, perfumed, and without the customary muskiness.

"Wake up, wake up, stop rocking!"

Pushing her away, as he had done so many desperate delirious times before, Teddy stood, adrenaline-overdosed.

IT was back.

His wristwatch caught his eyes, fresh from REM sleep-two hours had passed since he had ventured out onto this refuge of a porch. Teddy rushed to her bedroom--empty, her bed made.
"Wake up, Teddy" this time it was the alarm inside his head bleating in his own voice. He had set the clock radio in case he fell asleep, and now it loudly clicked on as instructed and issued a reminder of the lurking, subliminal reverie given voice in his desperate youth of the hallway hauntings, its effect that of a kind of mind-altering re-genesis, from Genesis: "I'm coming down, coming down like a monkey, but it's alright . . . .'No it isn't', his competing Teddy-voiced alarm objected . . . you keep telling me I've got everything, you say I've got everything I want, you keep telling me you're gonna help me, you're gonna help me, but you don't . . . but now I'm in too deep, it's got me so that I just can't sleep, get me out of here, please get me out of here, just help me I'll do anything, anything if you'll just help . . . GET ME OUT OF HERE!

He needed to sit, sit down and clear his mind, just as Dr. Pendergast had taught him, but not . . . on that rocker; where was it anyway, his pulse racing away from the shrink's intended calming ritual's results- there was no rocker, anywhere. 'Monkey mind' he had said the eastern wisdom teachers had called it, a free-ranging jumble of thoughts all tied to words, to language and its hollow version of a neatly alphabetized reality, complete with proper spellings and pronunciations, so that we all got our experience from the same page. Wilding jumping from here to there, his brain was the primate he couldn't awaken from…..or could he.

Teddy ran into the house, in search of the one real thing that could rid him of IT; where the Hell did she keep it. Think, think . . . as he raced between cabinets and drawers full of nothing he wanted, needed, he remembered: at the shop, of course. He ran there, the two hundred yards or so to the shop around the corner from her townhouse; keys jangling, he spied the area for any authorities, onlookers who might detain him from his purpose.

"There you are, you old friend" and, suddenly, Teddy recalled having helped his mother move it, ever so carefully, to its display case, a one of a kind novelty of another time, before modern life had kidnapped him, all of us, really, he mused, from our natural senses, from our own proper wildness. I'm coming down, coming down like a monkey, but it's alright, like a load on your back that you can't see but it's alright, try to shake it loose, cut it free, let it go, but just get it away from me, cause tonight, tonight, tonight, maybe we'll make it right, tonight, tonight, tonight . . . please, get me out of here, someone get me out of here, just help me I'll do anything, anything, if you'll just help get me out of here, tonight I'm gonna make it right, tonight, tonight, TONIGHT!'

He found an antique school style desk and, finally, followed his doctor's advice, to a point. Now it was time for self-healing, yes, the kind that you know is 'right', that'll 'make it right, tonight…'

He drew what felt like his first breath, unbated, for he didn't know how long; whew, now how does this thing work…..Teddy felt the inversely divine heaviness of this thing of great value, and its greatest worth lay in its, now, perversely healing powers, its ability to kill the monkey once and for all time! As it sat there coldly filling his sweating, trembling hand, he meant to make his ultimate offering in defiance of what had proved a mediocre god of the human ; the primate god had been stronger, feistier.

Swooping down from what must have looked to Teddy like just another patch of dark nowhere, a hairy strong arm grabbed hold of the assassin hand, scoldingly warning Teddy:

"That is your last warning, Master Gore! You know the rules against bringing real-looking toys like the pistol in your hand onto these school grounds." After a half eternity of mutually exchanged stern and startled looks, respectively from the teacher and Teddy, the diatribe of righteous sensibility continued: "Now, you know that we here at this school put great stock in the cultivation of God-given imaginative powers of the young, but, Teddy, yours has just gone much too far than would ever be called for our little 'show and tell' exercise of oral essays about Mr. Poe's story. I'm afraid I'll have to schedule you for extended visits with our brand new school psychologist Dr. Pendergast . . . now, I'm sure that your late mother would have wanted it that way."

Although it was his fifth visit with the eager psychologist, Teddy seemed only able, to sit--and slowly rock- in Pendergast's comfortable leather chair, a well-worn chair whose occupants were rarely acquainted with even a basic notion of comfort. He seemed oblivious to even his nurse escort, a longtime acquaintance of his long-departed mother, and perhaps this latter fact had somehow eluded Teddy. Because his only verbal refrain--other than that hummed instrumental melody, punctuated by just one particular passage of the lyrics, from his favorite Genesis song which accompanied his incessant rocking back and forth in tune with it--was 'is my mother coming?'

It, that song, had become the overshadowing backdrop to the 'lull-a-bye' Teddy now sometimes murmured to himself, peppering it with an endless spoken refrain, a crazed countdown of primates abed, abed in his bed: '. . . .ten wild monkeys jumping on my bed, one fell off and bumped his head, called the doctor and the doctor said, no more monkeys jumping on my bed'; Teddy's eyes focusing on Dr. Pendergast only when the word 'doctor' fell from his tightly straining lips. This startled the psychologist as much because he was stumped-he admitted as much to himself, in his notes--as anything else ever had in his practice.

He wrote: "Teddy seems to have created his own narrow world, a kind of feedback loop, stuck in some autistic state, a state without any governor but himself. I fear for his long term prospects, as the complex of perceived, if not real, traumas his thinking mind has somehow manufactured or exaggerated has taken on the nature of a closed system; the genesis-pun intended-of these confluent hurts to his psyche may not be identifiable readily. More and more, it's his exodus from the here and now which worries me the most, all apologies for the biblical terminology as it may give the impression that he is lulling me into his world instead of vice versa; it cannot simply be that lullaby, no, or even the all too common Oedipal thing, although the Genesis song he is obsessed with has become, so to say, strangely addictive lullaby of his man-childhood. More study, perhaps in collaboration with late onset autism researchers, is in order. There's something deeply hidden, yet in plain view."

As Pendergast closed his notebook, he was suddenly seized by a simple phrase of that latent, now predominant darker lullaby, the one he had heard countless times lately, so much so it had taken on the quality of so much white noise . . . 'it's like a helter skelter, going down, and down, round and round, but just get it away from me'.

The doctor's grip on his notebook unconsciously loosened just as his jaw seemed to drop, and as the book hit the floor, Pendergast audibly whispered, "Oh my God, another Manson?!"

For the first time, Dr. Pendergast feared for his life; he determined to keep a pistol locked in his left hand drawer, for his peace of mind, he rationalized.

The windows at the modern hospital where Teddy now resided boasted their modernity; no bars or heavy locks were evident in its smart state of the art design. Instead, wireless laser devices simply alarmed the staff should a patient venture too close to freedom. The meds took care of the rest insuring passive patience among the population. That was the rub, as far as the authorities were concerned; just how did an average sized deeply disturbed young man manage to defeat these systems.

The newspapers allowed as how the offices of Dr. Pendergast had been neatly burgled, entry having been had through a second story window, itself without the glass having been broken. There was no evidence of a ladder or other means of scaling the wall nor was the front door in any way breached. Nothing of value had been taken, not a thing, not even a file, save one minor breach: the locked desk drawer appears to have been literally torn from its housing, contents unknown to anyone but Dr. Pendergast and he wasn't talking. Not with his neck snapped, a crudely written note stapled to his chest: 'One fell off and bumped his head'.

Teddy Gore was found sitting in the large leather chair, rocking slowly, back and forth, holding the pistol in his hand in such a way that it was clear he didn't quite know what to do with it. In fact, he held his hands so that they seemed to hang down around his knees, his thumbs swollen and, the police physician reported, out of joint as if pulled by a very strong force.

While the police and forensic personnel were variously conferring amongst themselves and pursuing their grisly work, a faint voice, rather high-pitched and almost infantile voice, as though these were its source's very first words, screeched: "We gow homme now, vay-rey tire-d….."

The End