Hard long night falling from the precipice of Flu Mountain. Eyebrows and arseholes, everything hurts. Muscle, cartilage, bones and flesh. I am variously on fire and frozen. With every breath my thighs bruise. My bowel feels distended by ten pounds of turnips (or beets maybe), uncooked and chopped into a small dice. Slathered with kerosene, only in need of a young boy’s belch.
To leave the bed is to announce agony. I would trade my toes for an hour of sleep. Yours for thirty minutes. Lying down and rubbing my uncut toenail against the back of my calf is like sharpening a knife in a slab of baby (and I’m in favor of babies). My kidneys purge and sluice, some broken dishwasher working from memory alone. I have a headache that’s impossibly bigger than my skull. The requirement to void is ever-present. Thank God I’m alone, and what a pitiless bastard he is to make me so.
We are torn from such a mash of wigs and money and madness (and there are wigs in your family’s past, believe me), and then a moment later we’re done as surely as a June bug swallowed by an unknown wolf. There’s no denying it’s an important moment to us, however long it lasts. Nothing as common as us and nothing as consumingly important. I love my breath the most even when I can barely stand the stench of it. One day soon I’m going to fill these holes, but not now, not today, because now it’s five a.m. and the weight of my sorriness precludes action.
Did I mention I have aggressively declining shin splints and that my nose aches? I have deposits. The ink of life on these old sheets. There are three framed pictures looking down on my discomfort from the sallow walls. One is small, a rough charcoal outline of a fisherman in a row boat. I knew this man and he is dead already, his moment passed, but he is with me still, floating there. Observing. Judging even. Across, in front of me, as though a mirror in a large golden frame, is a lovely large photograph of water lilies from a nearby pond, floating also in greens and yellows as though DNA mocking me, the great early soup that was there and will be.
In between the two is a naked woman reclining sketched in a singular brown tar. She is a smudge largely, but with high optimistic breasts, perfect fried eggs from Argentina where this picture was made by an artist with no money because tar is very cheap. I could fall in love with her, this naked model in the picture. I could put down these guns and go off to live simply in the barrios of Mendoza, but that would take the will to rise, to act, a thing that has left me, literally gone from my body, along with most everything else.
With a last bit of energy, and feeling badly about it all, I cause the fisherman to collect the tar lady, row around the wardrobe and then float off across the lily pond together. And as the last ripple of them empties out of the bottom of the big golden frame, I hear the dead fisherman, a father-in-law I never married, saying that we all choose our moment and do I really think this should be mine? With all that’s left to take care off and the small hands that still need holding? And I turn the light off beside the side of this vast and unruly bed, open a wooden shutter to the first of morning and then dress myself slowly, before heading down the staircase for some tea.