I have a sharp pain in my upper back. Almost a month now. Feels like a prehistoric lobster clawing into my shoulder blade. I checked in the bathroom mirror and didn’t find any kind of clinging crustacean, so I have to conclude it’s some knot in my Reichian armor. A constricted ball of energy refusing to go with the flow, now stuck and radiating Deadly Orgone Radiation throughout my etheric body, but with some leakage getting into the soul itself.
Probably got it doing bent-over dumb-bell rows. Bent-over dumb-bell, indeed. Maybe it’s from all the time I spend hunched and brooding like a doomed cathedral gargoyle. I can think of a few people who might be the source. Not you. They don’t read my stuff. No, they’re just some folks standing on my back while I do my spiritual push-ups.
Something’s bugging me.
Man. This pain is at that tricky six level. Bad enough to suck, but not bad enough for me to pursue any proactive remedy. Look, I’m a personal trainer. Shouldn’t I use any of the stretching, physical therapy stuff I’m always recommending to my clients? Maybe use the foam roller that’s in the trunk of my car to roll out and loosen the myofascial membrane? Stuff that’s been proven to help.
Fuck that. I need a chubby Asian girl to walk on my back with a pair of spiked heels.
Well. I need a lot of things. Things that maybe don’t have to do with the pain in my back.
They might be wants. In need’s clothing. It’s too confusing. For now, I am content to use the sharp corner of our wrought iron bannister to press against. I lock my knees out from a squat and thrust. Dig that fucker in. Deep. Then grind on it. Really try to torture it out.
Lori laughs when she sees me do this.
“It looks perverted.”
“That”s probably why it feels so good.”
“Are you sure that’s the right thing to do? Shouldn’t you get a massage or see a doctor?”
“I tried the corner of the counter in the kitchen, but the floor is too slippery in there. I just wind up falling on my ass. I’ve got carpeted steps to push off from here. This is definitely the way to go.”
I’ll tell you what. It got better while I was in New Mexico. I almost drowned the little demon in the hot springs at Ojo Caliente. It was really nice. Keller and my sister, got Lori and I, a room next to theirs. Both rooms had private outdoor tubs, with piping hot volcanic earth juice on tap. Not a bad set up. Getting to be with people I love. All of us bringing our A-Game to the mirth that night. Laughing like lunatics. Under a black desert sky scrubbed clean with wind. The stars sparkling extra bright.
Just does not get any better for this old sot. One of the best nights of my life, actually.
In the morning, I ventured over to the public pools. You know, see who’s who in Modern Rome. It was interesting. Everybody in their resort robes. Whisper Only zones. Everything all flutey-foofy and cedar hand-lotiony. It always felt like places like this were just goading me into boisterous misbehavior. The perfect place to be perfectly inappropriate. A good canvas for some dramatic chiaroscuro.
Now I try to play well with others. Sometimes that means just being invisible to them. So they won’t engage me. And tempt me into doing something bad. So I definitely wanted to glide through this whole scene as Buddhistly as possible. I even tried not to flip my flops too loudly as I cross the lobby. Going ghost. Leaving no footprint.
There’s all kinds of different pools with different flavored water. Some has iron that’s supposedly good for something. Another has high concentrations of soda, which I’ve always been told rots your teeth. Then there’s the arsenic water. Supposedly it’s good for arthritis, stomach ulcers and “a variety of skin conditions.” I could see that. It sounds like some medieval cure for crotch critters.
“If ever a bold bard gets ball boweevils by bawdy bar maiden, he need only to boil both bollocks in a bowl of its broth.”
Arsenic water? Are you sure? I mean, I’m as New Age as Donovan, but that can’t be good for you. Isn’t it like poisonous in even trace amounts?
Apparently, this is once again, where I am the fool. These trace amounts are just tracey enough to make them a downright tonic. Homeopathic Dr. Death’s Miracle Cure, Hair Tonic, Ball Soak and Mouth Rinse. Arsenic water. Open your pores and let the poison in.
Arsenic as cure-all is hardly a new remedy. But always as a last resort. Like Lumera.
I went from pool to pool taking turns to soak in all of the different potions…but that one. I was scared to. So I thought about it.
“Dude, your whole thing is about how a little bad is better than no bad at all.”
“It is. It really is. I think it rounds out my character. A little bad. Keeps the ladies interested.”
“Why not add arsenic, too? To go along with your collection of a little bad. ”
“Yeah, and maybe build up my immunity to larger doses of arsenic. Like if somebody ever tries to Rasputin me.”
“No doubt. It could save my life. Besides, what kind of pussy can’t handle a little poison?”
“I do like a little poison.”
I got out of the rotting-egg pool, and tip-toed over to the arsenic one. There were two middle-aged earth mother types in there already. I hesitated.
Some women have described their first impression of me as “predatory” or “surrounded by an aura of menace.” Which is unfortunate. I mean, that they can see that. If anyone were to make that assumption, it was going to be these two wholegrain-fed mamas. These types always hate me. At least at first. So now they were going to be uncomfortable with me being there. And I was going to feel uncomfortable about that.
Fuck it. I’m here to soak in poison. Bring it on.
I eased my hooves into the water and slid in. My horns glistening in the toxic steam. I smiled at the ladies, but they didn’t smile back. They turned and whispered to each other. I sat back, closed my eyes and inhaled the arsenic mist deep into my lungs. Let the poison mix with my own in chemical union. Let the Periodic Table of Elements mutate my cells to It’s Will.
When I opened my eyes I found myself looking at a pair of boobs bobbing on the water. They were elongated, and looked like two freckled salamis floating in a bathtub. Hardly bone-crushing erotica. At least for me. I thought about something, and when I looked up from them, I saw one pissed-off Gaia Granola stink-eying me. She thinks she’s caught me getting a perv on, when on the life of my cats, I wasn’t. I was too zoned out.
Anyway, she turned away all violated and leaned in to tell her friend something. Her friend looked over at me and nodded. They got out of the pool. Put on their robes and flip-flapped away with decided intention.
I knew it. I knew something. That’s why I hesitated. Knew something would go down. They were waiting for something and thought they got it. Now they could leave content, thinking that their initial assessment of me was correct.
Very irritating. But what am I going to do? Run after them trying to explain–
“Look ladies, I’ve worked in strip clubs. Your tits don’t mean anything to me.”
Yeah. That’ll fix it.
The fact was that seeing those two beefstick boats made me remember going as a kid with my parents to the Hickory Farms at the Esplanade Mall in Oxnard. They had diced samples of salami and cheese on toothpicks you could stick into different mustards. That’s what I was thinking about. That hardly constitutes prurient leering. But try to explain that to a woman whose scurrying away with her smokey links flopping under her robe. You’ll just dig yourself in deeper.
Let it go.
I sunk back into my pool of poison. I have no control over what they think. I have no control over what anybody thinks. And far from being a bummer, when actually realized, to it’s most fullied optimal, the liberation can be absolutely intoxicating. Certainly frees one up for a wider range of motion.
Whatever arsenic kills-it’s better dead. My back stopped hurting for a few days.
They were right. Sometimes a little poison is just thing, to ward off a greater malady.
Unfortunately, the treatment didn’t kill enough of it, because the beast grew back a few days after I returned to California. And is still digging in, as I write this.
There was a arsenic water fountain there you could drink from. It had a health warning plaque attached. Drink at your own risk. I passed. Soaking in poison and actually drinking it are two different things. That’s one thing I’ve learned.
I should have guzzled a belly full of it.
I guess if I was a better writer I’d tie-in how caring what somebody thinks is really the source of my pain. And how when I did let the poison I was surrounded by, kill off the real poison–the shit in my mind–the pain went away. How that’s the real remedy for my present discomfort.
But, I’m just not up for it tonight.
My fucking back is killing me.