It was 10:21 in the morning, Hollywood, May 11, 1996. The heat of the spring sun was building all over the city and shone down through eucalyptus branches on the pitiful face of Solomon Fraser, who lay strewn like a dead body, just off of the sidewalk. His visage was pale and lifeless. His jeans were falling down around his hips and he was wearing only athletic socks and a T-shirt otherwise on his sinewy body.
Sol is about six foot tall and “prettier” than a man should be, with thick, dark auburn hair, fair skin and hazel eyes, one of which is just slight bit more lazy than the other, giving his mug unique, strong character. Even as he sleeps this frontage is in a constant state of expression, ever-shifting through a panoply of masks.
His taught frame has an athletic look. His hands bear the scars of one who reaches without caution too often. On this day he appeared to wear something between a smirk and a smile, covering the desolate sadness of his spirit, always covering. At the time, he looked about twenty-three years old but was actually twenty-nine. He has always looked younger than his age, significantly.
There were no visible traces of ancient pedigree, aristocracy, finer education, intellectualism, heirlooms, old Alban wealth, Salons D’arts, Waterford, Minton, Royal crown Derby, Locharron Tweeds, 17th century silver hallmarks, coats of arms, or the “haut monde” backweave of his life beyond the Hollywood affectation and costume, unless one could look more deeply. Beyond the shameless childishness of his deep spirit, a spirit nurtured and armored by mother’s beliefs. He’d always played in a private game of disguising his beginnings. He acted in the conservative Scots tradition in which the appearance of having or process of making money was fraught with shame, not to be spoken of, “declasser” en francais, if one did.
“You can do anything Sol, you can be anything you want to, if you want to badly enough, if you believe you can. You are a Fraser… and as such, can conquer all.” But, at a glance, there was nothing beyond the demoralized sot, a toff down the skaup, stoney street. In completion, any idea of his potential, all belief in himself vanished, powerless.
His head lay hanging partly off of the curb. His eyes began to open, no more than slits, to try to fight the brightness of the sun and suddenly to see the front right wheel of an oncoming bread truck approaching quickly. The driver honked the horn as he and his partner laughed at Sol, whom they thought a pathetic street-urchin to torment. Sol quickly realized he was not in his bed, or anywhere near it. He rolled out of the way immediately, but sat up slowly, with much effort.
His body ached. It felt as though he had been badly beaten. He searched for his wallet, which was gone when he saw that his boots had been stolen from his feet, as was his denim jacket from his body. He found none of the emblems of his life in his pockets; no keys, no money, nor any explanation in his mind. He did a balancing act to get to his feet and began to walk home.
He was somewhere between Sunset Boulevard and Hollywood Boulevard, on Las Palmas Avenue, in the heart of the seedier backroutes. Stripped of his ruffian image, He scuffed his feet along looking weak, headed to his apartment, vulnerable and not out of place. He kept thinking to look for clues or find someone he might ask as to how he got there, what happened, maybe someone had seen it, but he couldn’t muster the social skills to ask any of those hanging around.
By the time he had walked a hundred yards he could not tell how far it had been, or from where he had awakened and walked mere minutes before. Feelings of desperation were beginning to build inside him. As he crossed Hollywood Boulevard he started to sweat and panic. The noises of the city and the urgency of the cars and pedestrians were making him sick. The world was spinning around him, waiting for him to drop out of its way. He felt alone and lost. He started to search his mind for pieces to the puzzle. How had this happened?
He had gone out to the street last night, like so many nights before in search of drugs. Nothing weird about that. He did that five or six times on an average night, looking for cocaine, processed to a rock form that was smoked, he refused to refer to as “crack” but in a joking manner… He had done it for about five years; too many times to count. He always made it home with a handful of the little pebbles.
Why should last night have been any different, aside from the ridiculous level of drunkenness he had achieved? It didn’t make sense, but reality was starting to take effect. He stumbled along as his mind found it’s way to the grips of his mother complex and all she’d ever shaped in him about his life’s possibilities, how much faith she had bestowed in him. To the father he now resembled and emulated rebelliously as answer to that, and the family and all the hope they had for his great rise to world renown, to one day continue in the family tradition of bringing great honor on the family name, as all feats his father had been unable to perform. The great tree, like an unwavering oak, from which he had sprung and fallen. So far from it’s “entitled”, indomitable roots. These were the thoughts that always came with his present brand of remorse. The ones with which he could really tear himself down. That had been the central game in constant production.
His mother had begun telling him in his teen years that if he stayed on his path of carelessness and irresponsibility, drinking too much and thinking too little, he would end up just like his father. He would have nothing more than a bright and promising life flushed down the toilet. She told him that he might have a genetic predisposition that put him at risk, which sounded so enticing at the time. Whatever and wherever dad was, it’s got to be better than being here, or he wouldn’t do it, right. She had been correct, as was the usual case too often lately.
He wallowed in thoughts of all that he had become and not become. Suddenly, the urge to vomit overtook him, pulling him to his knees just near the corner of Franklin Avenue and Las Palmas, dry heaving and retching, producing nothing but bile. He hadn’t eaten much of anything in days.
As the relentless sun bore down upon him he began to weep and sob. His cries grew louder and more violent as he tilted his head aloft to God, the universe, or whatever power would hear him. Screams tore through his throat. The far away and broken screams of a young man who had burned his life to the ground and knelt, whimpering like a baby, in the smoldering wreckage and grimy soot. “Whyyy???…Hooowww????… Goooooooooddd, tell me Hooowww.” He cried. He knew he was far away from God. But God wasn’t the one who had taken the distance.
He stumbled to his feet again, feeling little stones through his socks, now worn through to the skin at the heels and toes. He teetered home trying to appear to be anything other than the wretched soul that he was, climbing clumsily over the security gate and up the stairs to his unlocked apartment. He crumpled to the floor like a waif in the corner, to sleep without dreams for the next eighteen hours. The recent three-day run had reached its pitiful, incomprehensible and demoralizing end and the sight of him curled like an animal in the grand spaciousness of the top floor loft apartment he owned, looked more as if he were a drug driven criminal who had passed out on the job.
Upon waking, his mind would not relent in its search for what psychological corners he had turned, specifically, that led him to his eventual demise. Was it too late to save anything from the wreckage? He had pondered this thought many mornings before, but this day was different.
Then came a moment of frightening clarity. He remembered, regretfully, that this had, sadly, been his plan, and that everything had gone according to it. He was having a hard time now remembering what was so romantic about the path he had chosen. His problems were of his own making. He thought that being aware of it, being the conscious chooser gave him impunity. There was no one, nothing outside of himself to blame, it had all been, and still was, up to him.
Sol had always stressed an acquired theory that the course of life, well his life anyway, was dictated in part by its long series of defining moments. As he grew older and made more decisions for himself the truth of this statement became fact. For the choices he would make, he told himself, he would gladly accept the full consequences, but those choices were an effort to create himself to be something that was so against his true nature that they destroyed his character. He had not planned for that. He knelt and prayed, again, and again, feeling the guilt of foxhole prayers, not leaving his home for days. Inspiration came.
He came to the thought, through all of his self-pity, that his trials were, in actuality, small, compared to what his ancestors had endured. That he had lived ungratefully in the fruits of all of their labors, biting the hands that fed him. He began to feel as if all of their efforts would have been in vain if he were to give up the grail quest now. All of the power, real or imagined, of the Scottish Highland tales he had been taught, welled up in him as a driving force.
He would not give in, he decided. He would root out the problem or die trying, just as his forefathers would have done. It was the only option. For a moment his cynicism had him laughing internally at himself and the “help me now, Jesus” nature of his thoughts, but what else was there? He prayed to God for help to do right by those who had brought him here, and to honor what they had sacrificed to do so.
Sol chose a standard Judeo-Christian concept of God: the old man, gray beard, omniscient, omnipotent idea of the Holy Father that comforted him. He enjoyed it. He was not interested in spending time inventing an image that would work for everybody else, mainly because that’s a fruitless effort. This God would guide him, if sought, he was told and did believe it.
He holed up in his apartment, poring over his past for what his life’s defining moments had been, he found that there were many more than just a few, more than one, or two per year. The fact was, that since his ability to be honest with himself had not been completely lost or forgotten in the mess of his life, he, eventually, was able to see that; in essence, when it came down to it, every moment had been a defining moment.
Sol began to see that the tools for living he had learned to view as a safety or a comfort were exactly the opposite. His world became an unlivable place not because of what it was, but because of what he perceived it to be and how he behaved behind that perception. His mother had always said, “When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” His life had to become about getting a whole new set of tools. One can imagine the difficulties involved. Sol is a constant reminder to many that there are no advantages, no amount of money, privilege, intelligence, charm or good looks that will necessarily save one from one’s own mental obsession, character defects, allergy of the body and spiritual dis-ease, or malady. That his entire story has been the revelation of Spirit, by Spirit, for the benefit of Spirit, to give back to Spirit, is a belief that came after much careful consideration, by the grace of the same named. No one is not expected to adopt that as his or her own belief. The broken young man who knelt and prayed would not have believed it either.
©2014 Stratherrick Publishers/Brent David Fraser, all rights reserved