Jack & Lucky Chapter 2, part 2
Chapter 2, Part 2
Julie stirred and pushed herself up to look, but by then the car had gone. She reached around and fastened her bra and tucked in her blouse.
Jack watched with a reverent fascination, helplessly enjoying her motion. He was pinned under her weight, there was nothing else he could do.
She sat squarely on his legs enjoying that bit of continued intimacy and control, and even more, his rapt attention. Once she had repaired her clothing and pushed at her hair she leaned down and kissed Jack thoughtfully without saying anything. She moved up and over the seat with considerable agility.
Jack knew he couldn’t duplicate that trick so he bumped and strained upright feeling the now cold, unfamiliar and unwelcome wetness with every effort. He opened the back door and fell backwards reaching his hand to the ground in time to spin and land on his feet with more good fortune than grace.
He could barely support his own weight. One of his legs had gone to sleep and came alive with a painful affliction of pins and needles. He walked in a circle stiffly and awkwardly both from pain and discomfort. As he approached the driver’s door he looked down to see if there was a wet spot on his pants. If there was, it was too dark to see. He opened the door and folded himself deliberately into position concealing his plight. He rolled down his window to remove the steam.
When Jack looked at Julie, he was enthralled as moonlight transformed her into an angel with her tussled, blonde halo. She was strikingly pretty even without her makeup that was all over his own face.
He wiped the front window clear of moisture, started the car, turned on the lights and drove quietly toward her home. It wasn’t late but he was honestly tired and very uncomfortable.
Julie chatted about her work for the Paris Fair, the largest local clothing store. Jack had purchased his Boy Scout uniforms there but could not afford the otherwise high prices. He listened sporadically as he laid plans to clean himself without rousing the suspicion of his mother the next time she did the laundry.
When they reached Julie’s house, he quickly said good night and they embraced fondly a few times outside the house. He returned stiff legged and self-consciously to the car in a stupor of pleasure.
Jack coasted the car into the angled turn on East 2nd Street, accelerating to move up the hill below his home. The tires slipped only slightly on the loose gravel. It was only 10:30 Friday night, the first of August, 1964. The weather was pleasant enough so he could keep the window down. There was no chill nor warmth in the gentle breeze just a comforting, neutral rush of air past his ear. As he drove past the small convenience grocery, he could see the lights of his home shinning through the large view window.
He turned right on East 3rd Street under the last light. The car moved up the hill into the deep shadows shrouding the regular parking place. It followed its own instructions as it had done hundreds of times. The lights from the windows suggested that his mother was still up. She was either watching TV, crocheting or dozing in her easy chair. She seemed capable of doing all three simultaneously.
After he turned the key to silence the engine, he rolled the windows up and set the emergency brake. If he didn’t close the windows there was a distinct chance that several cats would find their way inside. It was bad enough they walked all over the car leaving tracks after the rain.
A naked bulb swayed on its twisted wire and offered light that was less help than total darkness. Intense shadows covered the irregular steps he had helped his father make. A meager concrete path united the larger flat rocks with a few steps. He had pealed and varnished young timbers to make the smooth railings. These were as familiar to his hand as the steps to his feet.
He bounced up the stairs with stiff legs, taking long strides alternating with leaps, tugging the rail as needed. He followed a pattern of movement by rote reaching the level concrete walkway. He measured the distance to the porch with an awkward skip in time to swing around the corner in a routine that marked the column with a well defined smudge.
Under the brilliant light he inspected the front of his pants to verify there was no sign of his previous excited state. Nothing visible. He entered the door but before he locked it he called, “Is Lucky home yet?”
There was no immediate response as he leaned around the open door frame that otherwise separated the enclosed porch from the front living room. Jack had wakened his mother when he landed on the porch and opened the door. It took her a second to formulate an answer as he caught her glance.
“No, not yet. Unless he slipped by me while I was resting my eyes.” She never admitted to being asleep. She was always just resting her eyes when she dozed in her most comfortable rocking chair.
Locking the door was an important family ritual. The lock in the handle apparatus was irrelevant since there was no key. The standard security measure was to place a table knife through the door frame. The stout knife handle pressed against the door to secure it. In the more than twelve years Jack had lived in this house there had never been any attempt at forced entry. None of the neighbors had reported any problems. He reasoned: that made such weak precautions unnecessary. His mother reasoned: that was a testament to the success of the ritual and everyone should therefore observe it. Lucky occasionally forgot but not recently since he had been severely chastised.
“I’ll leave the door unlocked for Lucky.” Jack announced as he crossed the living room. The television was flickering and his Mother was sitting in her rocking chair in the opposite corner. He shuffled sarcastically covering his stiffness in an imitation waltz to the accompaniment of music from the Lawrence Welk Show commercial.
“Sorry to wake you,” Jack offered as a lame apology.
“You’re home early.” She looked up over the top of her reading glasses held tenuously on her rounded nose.
“Ya. Have to work tomorrow morning early.”
“You need any help getting up?” She asked out of a routine consideration that had long since become second nature.
“No. I’ll set my alarm and leave before you even stir.”
“Humph. I’m always awake by 6:00 and you know it.” She argued to no one because by that time Jack was in the kitchen searching for a snack.
Jack’s mother was well proportioned but substantially overweight. She had always looked the same in Jack’s memory. Her gentleness and modesty were legendary among her acquaintances and that easily offset any deficit in her physical appearance. She was steady, neat, extremely shy and very predictable.
It’s always difficult to determine the effect of each parent on their children. When there are as many children in the family as in Jack’s, such analysis is made more interesting. Traits from either parent can be found in each child. Like the distribution of color in a liter of cats, no single child is endowed with all the traits of any one parent but each carries something in common. Close observers could notice many similarities between Jack and his mother, beginning with their noses, a distinct roundness on the end. Jack’s already masculine profile resembled his father’s.
Jack was the peacemaker in groups of his peers because he could naturally see both sides of any argument; he inherited that gift for dialectic from his mother. His father could be very dogmatic although he was no longer active in The Church. Also, he was as comfortable walking home alone as with a companion; he attributed this to the shyness of both parents. His desire to stand out as a leader followed the ambitious nature of his father. His strict honesty, dry wit and sense of justice owed more to his mother. Whereas his quick intellect and unconventional thinking process probably more closely resembled that of his father. His physical frame was nearly a replica of his father. His three brothers were shorter, thicker with rounded shoulders like their common mother.
The entire family was blessed with good health and an aversion to seeking medical attention, an attribute of both parents. The puzzle of nature vs. nurture, just like the controversy Creation vs. Evolution, remains even after these observations. For each trait reminiscent of a parent, there are two original combinations that come from the different environments separating the first child from the last, a distance of nearly twenty years. These differences simply make all the siblings more interesting, the natural similarities are to be expected, therefore of less interest.
Like a miracle there was always something ready to eat in his mother’s refrigerator. Jack grabbed a piece of cold fried chicken from the nearly vacant shelves and poured a glass of milk to wash it down. After he returned the milk safely inside, he reached for the brown ceramic clown container on top. Unfortunately, it was empty. He knew there had been at least three cookies left that morning.
“I think Lucky ate the last cookies.” He heard his mother’s distant comment. She could eaves drop even on his motions.
After gulping the milk and cleaning every possible morsel of meat off the chicken bones, he disposed of the evidence. He moved just down the hall to the bathroom to take care of his nightly routine and execute his subterfuge. He returned through the dining room past his Mother who was now crocheting. She had been crocheting constantly since she was eight years old, through eight children and many more changes of residence.
“I’m going right to bed so I can get plenty of rest for tomorrow.”
“Thanks for warning me,” she teased. “Be sure to bring up any dirty clothes so I can do the wash tomorrow.”
Jack wondered if she knew his secret without any evidence.
Jack’s mother hadn’t been down the stairs into his bedroom since they moved into the house in 1952. The steep stairway was a sufficient obstacle to keep his privacy intact. This was one reason he stayed there. As the rest of the family moved away one at a time other rooms became available but Jack remained in the basement. The dusty room was decorated with cobwebs, dysfunctional pieces of audio equipment and inoperable radios. Otherwise the room was neat even though he never had visitors. He had grown accustomed to the must and cold humidity during the winter. During the summer it was pleasant even during the hottest nights.
“Okay, good night.” Jack reached for the simple handle on the plywood door. The door was homemade, cut out of the surrounding paneling so it was barely noticeable.
He stepped onto the top stair tentatively and descended into the total darkness of his basement lair by touching the back of his heels to the front of each step. Before he reached the last step, he held onto the main floor landing and swung, dropping to the concrete floor. He reached up and to the right for the string connected by relay to the light switch. A gentle tug gave a quick snap to the electric mechanism and the familiar dungeon came alive with light and radio music.
There was a single bunk-bed to the right as he entered around the rough supporting post. To the left against the far wall was a small scarred desk. He had inherited this desk from sister, Jane, when she married. Lucky eventually moved into Jane’s room.
The floorboards making the ceiling were rough-cut and barely over his six foot height. Jack walked in a guarded stoop to avoid the main beam. He moved directly to his desk and snapped the switch of the hanging bare bulb contrived as a desk lamp. He pulled his shirt out of his pants and kicked off his shoes to help relax. He reached to the main light and pulled the short chain to make it turn off creating a cozy niche of light. Once in the chair, he scooted close to the desk and began his concentration.
His notebook and pen were waiting as before. By writing his recent thoughts he expected a pleasant release so he could get on to other equally interesting ideas.
One thought I must record is one which seized me today at work. It concerns the relative length or elapse of time–and I felt very strongly–mostly in the morning–that I wanted time to go slowly because then I could enjoy more life. I now have no idea of the motivation of this thought, but while I lasted in this attitude I felt very much at peace.
But now I think this idea was a complex reverse psychological method of making work hours go fast because really it feels when you want time to “pass” slowly it will go fast and visa-versa. Still besides this possible motive–the idea is very–shall I say tender–partly because of its newness and partly because the reasoning behind it–if a person can control the relative speed of time as it elapses he or she can reap or better to say realize more progress in his individual lifetime. Even, there is a remote possibility–a new thought–that a person could make time stand still except for his own thoughts–and enjoy his thoughts or this false escape from reality which it might be deemed as–as long as he or she or both together wanted. Possibly during this period there could be communication by thoughts–my motive for this is to be able to spend relatively more time with my girl friend–another false escape I suppose…
He smiled with a challenge in mind. He had been testing his ability to wake unassisted precisely on time. If he noticed when he went to sleep, setting his internal clock, he could awaken just before the alarm. One of these days he would test his new talent without the alarm clock. As of yet, he hadn’t gained complete confidence. His contest with Time was a dialectic he played against his own nature.
He stood and turned the lever of the hanging light to off. There was a faint glow from the window over the bed as he disrobed. He scattering his clothes thoughtlessly across the room with each step. He took his socks off last out of habit because the bare concrete floor was usually too cold for comfort. He jumped between the cool sheets naked, he had already disposed of his undershorts. He moved in all at once to full length to embrace the refreshing chill. Again, this motion was more habit than need. When it was very cold, he would warm the bed with his breath. The sooner he extended to his full length the sooner he could warm the whole bed.
Because of his long work day and other pleasures, he was ready for a refreshing sleep. He entered that altered state of life in less than a minute.
During the intermission of the dance the next evening when Lucky recounted his escapade to Jack and Jim, some details were missing. Lucky did mention the confrontation with a tall dude at the Game Room. He exaggerated the way he stood up to the guy. A certain license with those details can easily be forgiven.
Jack had learned to expect a looseness in Lucky’s account of such happenings but enjoyed his literary aptitude. He was mum about his own experience.
“You guys really do sound great! You sound inspired by some peculiar enthusiasm for life. What’s this white powder on your shoulder?” Jack was making a reference to Lucky’s love life, teasing about the donuts.
“Thanks for nothing!” Lucky blushed and brushed at his dandruff as he moved away toward the drinks. “Be right back.” Their break was nearly over.
“Do you have your room assignment yet?” Jim asked. They had both been accepted to the Mormon college, The Brigham Young University, before high school graduation.
“No, not yet. But I applied for Helaman Halls dormitory. That seemed like a reasonable choice for the first year.”
“Well, maybe we’ll be close, because I have an assignment at Hinckley Hall and that’s in the same complex.”
“Have you decided on your major yet?” Jack probed.
“It looks like History for now. The first two years are pretty much the same for any liberal arts major anyway. How ’bout you? You still going to register in Economics?”
“Ya. I haven’t changed my mind on that but I’m not sure about a minor. To begin with I think I’ll look at a minor in Sociology. Mr. Johnston told me I should be a Sociologist. He said I was a natural, except I don’t even know what it is. I’m more interested in money so I’ll stick with Economics too.”
“Good old Dillard our infamous Social Studies teacher. There’s a petition drive circulating to fire him, you know?”
“No. Shit, he’s the best teacher we had.”
“Some people thought he was too revolutionary, like a Communist or something.”
“What a bunch of ass-holes. He’s the best thing that ever happened to this town.” Jack was exaggerating and venting anger he didn’t really feel.
Jim just shrugged. “You can change your minor fairly easily after you start too. I’m thinking about Journalism as a minor in case I want to go on for a teaching degree.”
Jack didn’t respond, he just stared blankly at the crowd.
Jim followed his glance and turned to look over the crowd as he sipped his drink. “Pretty good group.”
Jack finally responded, “Did you notice you have to take a religion class each semester? That’s kind of a waste since you can’t transfer those credits if you change schools.”
“I don’t expect to change, so it doesn’t bother me.”
“Have you decided about going on a mission yet? Where would you want to go?”
“I don’t care where I go but I’m not in a hurry yet.” Jim was nonchalant about going on a mission. It was as if the question of whether to go or not hadn’t occurred to him. He was living with a comfortable certainty.
Jack was less certain. “I’ll go I suppose. Everything I’ve done seems to be pointing me in that direction. I guess the religion classes should help too. I’m planning on taking a French language class so I stand a better chance of going where people speak French. I’d like to gain a language at the same time I do my mission. But I won’t really be old enough until after two years since my birthday is late.” Jack had been thinking a lot about this and had nearly made up his mind to follow this plan.
“You ready to dance some more?” Jim asked Julie as she rejoined the group along with Lucky coming from the other direction.
“Sure, this is great! Everybody loves it.” There was a room full of about 50 kids nearly all from the local community.
“Let’s do it!” Jim instructed looking at Lucky. They returned to the stage.
Julie and Jack found their way back to a table in the darkened corner. They had danced a good deal already and enjoyed dancing fast. Jack looked forward to dancing slow especially since it gave them a chance to get up close and personal. Lucky’s band didn’t know very many slow songs, unfortunately.
Mormons actually encouraged dancing and pleasurable social activities. They considered this to be a good, safe way for young people to develop their personalities.
After the dance, Jack took Julie home before it got too late and left after a short good night kiss. He went directly home wishing to return to his journal.
In the solitude of his basement, Jack continued writing.
Often when I am alone I go on a self-appraisal tangent and suddenly I strike one point of my personality which I think I do not like. It seems so clear at that time but shortly thereafter the thought is lost. I hope these suggestions are being taken advantage of by my subconscious. If I do lack something which is suddenly captured in this manner, I hope my personality is changed to the better.
My thoughts sometimes drift to the fact that I am influenced quite a bit by those around me, especially in my actions and even expressions. This I suppose is natural. But it seems, for example, when I am dancing fast, which is the mode at the present, I have a tendency to adopt those movements which are peculiar to someone else, to myself, even if this adaptation is only slight. I can’t notice it in others. It could be a subconscious drive to conform or maybe I am basically a copy cat. But nevertheless, it is the case.
No matter what social or economic origin you are born into you can change to whatever you would like different if you want and can use the mental facilities which are at your disposal. The thing which really matters then is your attitude. Whether or not you want to change; then I am saying no goal in life is too difficult if you can make yourself work toward it…If I have made my decision that is 1/4 the battle, 1/2 is working for it and the other 1/4 is succeeding or finishing.
If you desire those things in life which are honorific then get them. This must be the way I feel, but there are two things I don’t want to happen when I finally get them. 1) I don’t want to change my attitude and wish I never had them (riches) or feel I was better when I was poorer or still was striving for this same. I want to be able to enjoy it and work on for what I don’t have. 2) I don’t want to become arrogant–stiff necked, snobbish, proud, etc. But have the same attitude I had when I was working for what I will have. And that is: I want still more and what I have is not good enough. You can call this humility or ambition, alternate points on a circle of human character. These are not associated in a true sense but express what I want to say in a very crude combined meaning.
One of the most important things a person must be able to do in life is to learn from others and be constantly aware of the reasons behind actions. Many people I have met have the attitude that they know it all and immediately close their minds to the topic at hand or stand staunchly to their own convictions. This latter is okay, but an individual must be objective at all times and be willing to learn. When we adopt the attitude that we are right on an issue, we are in fact wrong.
Part of this concept can be categorized as a search, a constant never ending open minded search. You must continually ask yourself if what you feel is correct. For the minute that you stop doubting an item then is when you begin to lose your strongest faith. No item should not be subject to question. If the item is in fact false or misleading, then it should be realized and uncovered. But in every thing the truth will withstand any inquisition no matter how thorough or rigorous. If it is the truth, then it will prove itself in the end.
This philosophy can and should be applied to many different categories. These general categories–politics–general ethics–moral standards–religion–science of any field–jurisprudence, etc. Each individual has the task before him to tackle the problem and solve any of these problems for himself. The ideas are there for those who are willing to challenge or rebuke them. We must disregard any naive acceptance, blind faith, imposed fear tactics or any less or greater detriment and search out the answer to problems on our own and constantly learn from our experiences.
Acceptance and application of this philosophy in general and specifically could mean the difference between, shall I generalize and say happiness and sorrow. I have received inspiration to write a little lyric in connection with these former words–If in doubt. Think it out. –how quaint…
There is in these words a freethinking dialectic that feels no compunction about challenging religious doctrines or social mores. There is the beginning of an iconoclast, a lone wolf who will feel uncomfortable accepting any conclusion without adequate study. But, there is also the making of a detached ambition that will with difficulty accept the singleness of purpose and personal bias that is usually an ingredient in success. The continuous mental argument, a natural dialectic, weakens Jack’s determination. A singleness of purpose would be useful in making Jack a strong leader and high achiever as a missionary or in school.
Systematically doubting the conclusions taught by religious doctrine is not conducive to maintaining a strong testimony. As it turns out, to be a strong believer it is better to avoid serious questioning entirely.
Jack’s juvenile notes may seem tedious in contrast to the passionate side of either his or Lucky’s life but these give a clear insight and communicate a passion of a different kind. These thoughts are as much a part of who he is and more determinant of what he will later become than his intimate sexual encounters.
One important concept that emerges is his awareness of the need for logic. At least the suggestion that one should think by using some rational logic is accepted. There is no recognition of the structure of an appropriate logic to be used but that can be forgiven such a raw youth.
It is also clear that there are several inconsistencies in the presentation about evolution vs. creation. These are no more the fault of Jack’s thinking than the fault of the teachings to which he had succumbed. This religious myth is rife with inconsistences but that seldom bothers it’s adherents. In fact, if anything, the faults of both the evolutionists’ and creationists’ arguments are laid bare by the clarity and simplistic nature of Jack’s exposition. Neither argument succeeds because neither deserves to succeed.
The conundrum of creation and the perplexing questions surrounding the possible existence of God is not settled by these youthful mental struggles and rambling ideas. What comes through is the bare remnant of the brainwashing that is common among those with a strict religious upbringing. The struggle with this mind set is like the struggle of a butterfly trying to tear itself free from the remnant cocoon. The dialectic that will grow in future years is just beginning. The conflict between religious certainty, Jim’s path, and indifference to religion, Lucky’s path, is another dialectic taking root in the fertile imagination of Jack’s mind.
There is an obvious struggle in Jack’s thoughts, he was looking around the world and searching for answers. The young Jack is challenging the basic questions of humanity and will eventually come out ahead.
This is a whole different kind of struggle than what occurred inside Lucky. He was trying to make contact with life in his own way and he was also looking for answers but he took a much different path. Fortunately he found one answer before it was too late.
Jim and Julie accepted the answers they had been given. Only in Jack’s mind do we find the most active debate. We can look at each of his words for a nuance of phobia, complex, trauma or neurosis, but this kind of analysis will not explain his decision to pursue his religious life in the face of such questioning.
Jim accepted the answers, possibly as an avoidance technique not wishing to challenge his security on any level. Julie had a quiet confidence that would grow into a comfortable dogmatism. Their dedication to religion is understandable, what motivated Jack is less certain.
Jack and Lucky demonstrate a similar self-conscious introspection at different levels of intensity. For Jack this introspection began with interpersonal relations on the dance floor and extended to the limits of the universe. How many young boys think as deeply as Jack? Probably quite a few but not so many record their internal lives and ideas for posterity. Each argument he attacks has a counter argument, each theory has an antithesis. This is a dialectic that transcends Jack’s intimate discussions with Julie. It is relevant to all humanity.
Lucky’s eager search for excitement is comparable to Jack’s rigorous search for religious truth. The dialectic of challenging his religious upbringing came naturally for Jack. As misused as the word “dialectic” sometimes is, it goes a long way to describe the complex intellectual process involved here. Every idea has its arguments both in favor and against. For Jack there was an inherent need to entertain these arguments as they contested, a battlefield of ideas in his mind. For Lucky the battlefield was in his increasingly active life struggling to replace his unpleasant childhood memories.
Forward to Chapter 3
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