Sorry I haven’t written lately, but ever since my folks told me you were bullshit…well…I’ve felt a little stupid about keeping up any correspondence. I know. No excuse. It’s not like it’s gonna kill me to write a letter and feel like an idiot later. I should be used to it.
What with your 24/7 North Pole NSA surveillance capabilities, you probably witnessed me penning that lust letter to the four-eyed lynx intern at the acupuncture clinic back in ’95. Seven pages of handwritten heart-pour. To a chick I only answered questions to. Questions like “How frequently do you urinate?” and “What is the consistency of your stool?”
But that didn’t stop me, eh? From writing her.
So why not write to my old pal, St. Nick? Catch up on shit with a guy who doesn’t exist. Maybe put in a wish list.
Can’t be any stupider than driving one-eyed, all the way down Agua Fria to her clinic, and delivering it personally. Remember? It was right after that disastrous week-end with Bubbles. In Tuscon. Drinking more than usual after that little visit. Heart all hurt. Ego-aching. Embarrassed as fuck.
No wonder I freaked and went full-court press on the cat-eyed Jr. needle jockey. I had to fall in love with someone else. Right away. And make sure she fell too. Brought out the five-alarm charm that afternoon.
Shit-hammered on store brand vodka and Mickey’s Big Mouth. Reeling and red-faced. Crashing into the bamboo wind-chimes they had hanging up by the door. My poison-reek cutting through the Mentholatum spa-smell. The terrified and confused look on her face when I gave her the letter, slowly turning to pity when she sussed what it was all about.
Magic moment alright.
I also remember walking back to the car and realizing–with pristine divine precision and clarity–what a major fail I just perpetrated. Fucking great. Now I get it. Twenty-two seconds after I finished doing it. Not the twenty-two before.
It was always after, eh Nicko? And then, like clockwork, you’re not too drunk to care. All of a sudden. It’s like the batshit buzz that got you in the jam, suddenly hightails, leaving you holding the sock.
Yuuhgrhhh. Every time I remember it, my guts twist.
Love to time-machine that one. Hey, it was par for that whole year. From what I recall. Perfect candidate for lump of coal I was.
But I think I got some leather gloves, a camping ax, and a Hendrix box set. Don’t know if that was a mix-up or mercy on your part. But thanks anyway, dude.
Which brings me to why I’m writing. As you probably know, I’ve been a little grouchy this holiday season. Bitching and moaning about having to stand in long lines, find parking, gift wrap rhomboid-shaped gifts. Post Office. UPS. The usual sleigh-bell blues. And yeah I’ll admit, kind of sick of seeing your face all over the place.
Well, Friday I get hit with a stomach flu. A real sidewinder. All of a sudden I’ve got bigger problems than constantly losing the Scotch tape.
I go from bitching about small, irritating shit, to worrying if I’m gonna squirt out all my sacral fluid. Major attitude shift, Nicky. Capisce?
Lori’s gone to Europe, and neither of my cats have a driver’s license, so it’s toaster waffles and tap water for two days. I’m laying in bed the whole time. Bugsy and Louie holding vigil over their only food-giver. The only one until January 4th, when the other one gets back.
I’m so very weak. So very tired. Can’t push the buttons on the remote. Have to roll over on it in the bed. Hope a good channel comes on. But too sick to watch anyway. Can only let whatever is on blend with my delirium. World War 2 documentaries. Gangsters: America’s Most Evil. Full Throttle Saloon. Lock-Up; Extended Stay. Adult Swim. Hour after hour. Sleeping off big chunks, but awake enough for marathon series of fevered visions.
My mind wanted to show me things. Pulled me out of my body. “Check this shit out!”
British POW’s in Japanese camps. Trying to build a bridge while dysentery wrings out their bowels. A little brown boy lying on a banana leaf. Shivering with Dengue Fever. A moth in a dead guy’s mouth. Jungle rot. Cholera. Maggots in rice.
We visit a leper clinic in India. A Russian prison infirmary. African refugees eating sand.
Then I see paralyzed old people. They’re in a skilled nursing facility–watching the shadows of twilight lengthen across the room. Wondering if anyone will come see them. Thirsty. But unable to ask. Sad. But too dry to cry. Trapped. But unable to die.
Wheel of Fortune on. No way to turn it off.
(I think that’s worse. I’d rather have to build a bridge in diapers)
I’m telling you what, St. Boy, if I ever visit sick old people, I’m going to make sure to keep the mood light and laughy. And bring them orange juice or whatever. And make sure that the TV is on their channel.
I caught a glimpse of their hell, and it snapped me right out of the mopes. This is a stomach flu. I’m a recovered alcoholic. This is nothing. I got this. I knew I was probably going to roll it up in 48. But a lot of others are down for life.
Like some drunks I’ve known. Lying there floored and helpless. Alone. Every time you make it to the toilet a small victory.
Sad sun coming through the window.
Not even cats to keep you company.
Death feeling like a real thing.
Sometimes being one.
So yeah, grateful for the pathogens that bring on hellish visions. Grateful for my stomach flu.
And as far as any presents this year, don’t sweat it. Being able to drive to the store. Wash the sheets. Hold down food. Change the channel. Big gifts.
And of course the cats.
Give my share to somebody who needs it. There’s plenty out there, Nicky boy. Believe me.
Anyway, give my best to the Missus. Rudy. The Elves.
Take some time off. Belize. Good banks.