Taking The Arsenic Cure At Ojo Caliente

Good for what ails you.

Good for what ails you.

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.

Freckled boob soak.

Freckled boob soak.

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.”

“Fuck yeah.”

“I’m in.”

“Me too.”

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.

Fuck it.

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.

I feel like a new man!

I feel like a new man!

14 responses to “Taking The Arsenic Cure At Ojo Caliente

  1. This is great Marius! I have that same lobster under my shoulder blade, too. I think mine is called “eighth grade boys and girls”. I just love the way you write!

    • Thanks, Michelle. Oh man. Eight-graders. I can only imagine. That’s about the age when the teen-age sullen souring process really hits full stride. Having to soak in that brine all day long would give anybody a pain in the back side. Anyway, thanks for reading. Since I know you’re a good little girl, I feel bad that I used some curse words.
      I’m bad.
      But you have known that for a long, long time.
      Thanks for still being my friend in spite of that.

  2. This whole piece is a laff riot — no disrespect to your jacked back, Jack — but paragraph number two is genius writing. Well done amigo! [PS — Substitute “broad” for “maiden” and your alliterative ode to the benefits of an arsenic bath is complete.]

    • Dude, I’m all about Laff Riot. Sounds so Cracked Magazine. And yes, bar broad would have continued the alliteration. Ah well.
      But a .333 batting average is still pretty good in my minor league.
      Thanks for the support, Yimmy.
      Love yar mick ass,

  3. Tremendous. I read this with my sore back in full spazz-mode. Now I’m cured! (Like a salami-breast-slice) Thank you Dr. Marius for proving once again, that laughter is the best medicine.

    Keep gigglin’ and scribbln’.


    Lord Carnal (The Toxic Twat of Tewkesbury)

    • Well my most beloved Lord John, and Royal Toxic Twat of Tewkesbury, you shower me with honors most undeserved. This drooling, mercenary, village drunk-thug-scribe can hardly work miracles, yet. However, it is entirely possible that a polite chuckle so graciously indulged by my Lord might have loosened a muscle long enough for an errant spinal disk to return to his proper place. Like any good servant of a larger cause. As in my highest of humble ambition. To find my proper place, my Lord Carnal. In your meat kingdom. It’s just that so many places look so inviting, it’s hard to decide which one is the proper one. As the old saying goes, “If there’s a cheese with holes, a salami is sure to lurk close by.” That is, of course, the case with us, your bowing and scraping servitudinal serfs, my Lord, if you’ll excuse me for being so common.
      And now I propose a feast to celebrate the return of our fair leader’s back health! Cut the dogs loose from their ropes! Let them bring us back a pig. To spit-roast! Let strong ale flow and fair ladies blow, off the tops of our frosty mugs. Let us sing your praises until our voices are as hoarse as the beasts we are! War drums beating, lambs are bleating, if it’s good once, it’s worth repeating! Huzzah! Shed our clothes, strike up the band, our Lord reigns with gentle hand! Huzzah!

      Your Majesty’s Minister of Mirth and Madness,

  4. I hope you swing by my town on your book press tour. Damn. I think this is your finest yet. I was going to make a comparison to an aged scotch or whisky, but probably not good form for a bunch of old booze pigs like us. I also was going to highlight some of my favourite lines, and present them to you for anointing and supplication, but that would just be an abuse of Cut and Paste and we know that would anger Catequil. Stunning stuff…made out of pure man meat and years of scratching itches until they bled. The stuff that drives pyramid power and tectonic shifts. Macho Grande type grit and determination. Pleasure to read and chew on. I have always wanted to get back into writing, but there is not point with potent work like this out there. Sigh. I will look into lantern repair.

    Outstanding, kind sir.


    • Ha! Fancy dancing there yourself, my compatriot. Let us leave the lanterns broken. The full moon sheds enough light. Your words will also help illuminate our way as we drunkenly feel our way along this black wall, looking for the switch. So I entreat you to continue wielding your quill and wit. After all, I need things to read too you know. But your selfishness and self-centeredness probably blinds you to this fact. This I understand all too well.
      Ah, the writing life.
      A sun does not dip into the west (or is it east?) without me resolutely wanting to hang it up. The writing. Not the sun. And it’s always the kind words of friends like you that bolster my resolve to blunder on. A handful of encouraging remarks, digested on an empty stomach, are all I need to propel the meat beast my soul is currently inhabiting, forward. An ascetic in all else, I can forgo most anything, but lavish praise. Thank you for feeding my machine.
      As for visiting your fair city, no book tour is required. I always keep enough money for bus fare to Canada under a brick in my garden. Just in case a buddy up there wants to hang out. Or something.
      Thanks again for popping by. Always an air mattress here for you to crash on.

  5. Brilliant bit of prose, as your posts tend to be. Loved the “wants in needs’ clothing” line. Gonna steal that one, I am.

    Glad you got to spend some quality time with those whom you love, and get a little vacation from the everyday. Both those things are pretty refreshing, if you ask me [which… nobody did, but… that’s my opinion. First one’s free, tell your friends…].

    Also, you trying to up your pagehits from “freckled breasts” searches again [and as a side note, isn’t salami generally well-described as being “freckled”]?

    Take care, and keep churnin’ ’em out, fella.

    • Thanks, Mug. I’m glad you got the extra ha-ha to the freckled breast reference. And for the record, although the pair of breasts floating alongside of me that morning were freckled, so freckled, so mottled with different shades of brown that you and the wife could pick out which color you want for your kitchen cabinets, it was the texture of the skin that made me think of salami. It was like the deeply puckered casing of, say, a dry Italian salami. The term “sun-dried” comes to mind. Their surface wrinkled like crepe paper or beef jerky. They were leathery, dessicated boobs. Grapes of Wrath boobs. Tired boobs. Boobs resigned to the tyranny of time and gravity, and now hanging in resignation and defeat.
      And although they were not the type of boobs that I keep cataloged in my own lurid, erotic imagination, they were, apparently, the kind that millions and millions of men search engine the internet for. What can I say? I’m a stats whore.
      Thanks again for reading, Mugs. Hope life/work/love in Lawrence, Kansas are treating you well.
      My best (which isn’t always good enough)

  6. fantastic! so many wonderful quotable lines.
    i’ve always found your ‘aura of menace’ quite attractive…i guess those earth-mamas weren’t up for some fun. also, you look great in the last photo! you compliment the santa fe landscape, and i like the shoes.
    send me the dates you are planning on being in portland. i would love to see you. candice

    • Ah shucks, Candice. It’s not like I ever tried to cultivate that aura, nursed it from its delicate infancy, then spent a lifetime breast-feeding it from my soul or anything. So it tickles me to even think I might have one. You know, an aura of menace. Especially one that takes a hypnogogic hold over a woman’s better judgement and instincts, and…makes them do things…things like…like my shoes.
      Yes, I’m going to try not to misuse its power, but I’ll tell you right now, I think I’m going to suck at that. I mean what good is even having an aura of menace if not to harvest all kinds of illicit cash and and ill-gained prizes? The only other thing it’s good for is scaring away potential employers. Which, I guess, should be reward enough.
      But it never is.
      It never is.
      (See how I got all Rod Mckuen right there. Fucking poetry, baby!)
      Anyway, Lori and I will be flying in to Portland on July 12th, what history refers to as The Day After Marius’ Birthday. I surely hope we can see each other eyeball to eyeball then. It would be most awesome, after all these many years.

      These many years.
      Of wasteland.
      And thirst.
      My youth slowly killing me.
      Dead as dirt.

      Oooh weee! The hills of Camarillo aren’t the only thing on fire tonight, baby.

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