Saturday, May 18, 2013

Day 19: Perspicuity (d) (finale)

Status: As long as you are

Physiology: here you are immortal.

You leave the gazebo and float across the intermittent hum of heavy traffic trundling across Western Avenue like a sail. Odysseus buffeted by an Aeolus spring zephyr steering the drunken caravel of his corporeal vessel into the port of his Penelope, the ache of his Ithaca, the longing to return home.  On Bloomsday eight years ago you did more ‘shrooms than a Mario brother and found yourself dancing at the now defunct Red Foxx Den in downtown Peoria, a seedy gay bar where everyone was going into the bathroom to do either poppers or each other. Under the variegated din of the stampeding ecstasy-induced strobe lights you transition into Homer’s peripatetic protagonist and you are certain you need to go home, find your Penelope, kill her suitors before bedding your bride on the intractable mattress holistically hewn from sylvan and olive oak.

There are drunken mermaids who smoke Newport cigarettes with syringes in lieu of fins, there are half-formed dwarves ferrying venereal diseases you have never heard of from middle earth, there are lumbering downtrodden dragons drinking draught beer with mired Minotaur’s occluded in a labyrinth void of light.

The tunnel near the fairy-tale entrance to the Flumes in Bradley Park.

En route walking to Heading avenue from the Gazebo you begin to float as if in a stain glass  bubble. It is Sunday afternoon going on three o’clock.The corner of Cedar and Rohmann somehow transitions into Charybdis and Scylla and you notice that Mike’s tap is swamped. You frequent Mike’s weekly and it is one of your favorite bars and a cultural oak stump and historic landmark in the applauding bluff that is West Peoria but you have never been inside the bar when it has been this packed before.  It is a dive bar and you have never seen more than six people in the bar at one time.

You have just had fuel. You could go to Mike’s and see what is going. You still have a 20 spot left. You could go in and have one more beer to help you crash.

Your plan is this: stop in Mike's for a quick nightcap even though it is three in the afternoon. Then go home and sleep it off before going to work five hours later.

Mike’s Tap is the size of an ice-fishing shed with spearmint siding and is technically a garage. It is fraught with men clad in flannel with ill-trimmed moustaches and saw dust for facial hair who look like they just came back from a week long fishing expedition in the boundary waters. Everyone is gruff and drinking cheap beer under a Clydesdale figurine chandelier relic. Mike’s was a stag bar until the mid-seventies and they still mix drinks in the same fashion. A Jack and coke consists of one long elongated five second coppery pour followed by two drips of Coca-Cola added to enhance coloring. When you order a Bloody Mary they had you the hot sauce and a vial of garlic powder and tells you to have it.

You are drinking. Odysseus' final port stop on his sojourn home.

 Inside Mike’s there are two TV’s stationed in antipodal corners of the bar that are the size of airplane passenger side windows and have a large occiput and require antennae’s.  It is game four of the 2009 Bulls-Celtics first-round playoff and Derrick Rose is creatively coercing the game into overtime. You slam the first menarche-colored concoction and order another. The bar is over-flowing. There is one female in the bar who is sexy and looks like she might work there part time.
 The owner Tony looks at you, crunches his face and scowls which is just his way of saying hello.
Although a public smoking ban was instituted a year ago everyone is firing one up and ashing on the floor while prominently drinking Busch draught served from an oak keg planted into the wall. While you continue to imbibe you think that perhaps if you ever make it through the swelling emptiness of the tunnel in the bottom of Bradley park you would find a den just  like this only full of  half-drunken hobbits.
You are midway through your third Bloody Mary when the Siren sits next to you. You should be trussed to a totemic mast of human longing. Your ears should be surfeited with thwarting scraps of wax.  Instead she sits next to you and inquires that she has seen you around here before. You recognize her vaguely. She has cinnamon tanned skin that looks like honey lightly drizzled in chamomile tea. She is in her early forties. There is a hint of a hippie leaking out from her visage every time she blinks her eyes.
“I’m Rachel,” she says, her fingers extending in your direction like petals.
“I’m David,” you say, squeezing her hand. She is sexy and has a voice that sounds like she talking out of a glass tulip shaped beer chalice.
Rachel is smiling at you. The bartender knows that you are a writer and asks how that novel of yours is coming along these days. Rachel inquires what kind of books you write while batting her eyes in a manner insinuating that she in genuinely interested in either your literary ambitions or your loins. She says that she is in the middle of a James Paterson. She smells like she has been out in the sun tanning all day scented with wisps of patchouli melted into chlorine.

Suddenly you want to get laid. You want to fuck an older woman. You want  the molecular armor of your flesh to alchemically weld with the cradle and husk of her anatomy. You want kiss the beads of abacus sweat skiing down her forehead after sex, you want to chain smoke post-coital clove cigarettes and make references to early 90’s musicians like Liz Phair and Veruca Salt and Temple of the Dog.

You order another round.

Girls in their twenties don’t know anything about sex. They just lay there and stare up like a cat tracing the blades of an overhead ceiling fan. You want a girl who will have an intellectual discourse with the synaptic pulse of your grinding torso. The last girl you hooked up you posted a snide note on facebook stating, “Thinking of buying my girlfriend classical sheet music for the incumbent holidays so she will learn to phuck me bach (sic).”

You want an older woman. You want Rachel. Your voyage home can wait.

Here is your plan:  Pour as much alcohol into Rachel’s anatomy as is humanly possible. Say something poetic to cozen Rachel back to your apartment. Spend an hour making out with the drive-in movie theatre screen of her forehead before fucking her brains out, trying not think of the red headed girl fucking her pubic-bearded self-deemed artistic boyfriend in spite when you cum.

There are close to forty men in the shack, packed for a Sunday afternoon. Some of the elders are looking at you next to the hot girl as if they are cheering you from the sidelines.

You order a beer. You ask Rachel is she would like another round.

She declines. She calls you honey.

 “I actually bar tend here once a week. I also bar tend at the Owl’s Nest and I’m going over there in a couple of minutes when my shift starts."

Her voice is mellifluous. It drips and sprays. You want to kiss her neck. On one of the diminutive corner televisions the Bulls’ are forcing a double overtime. Rachel is picking up her cool hippie purse. She gropes your hand.

“I really enjoy talking with you. Why don’t you come to the Owl’s Nest when you are done so we can hang out.’

She says, with a smile.

Somehow it never occurs to you that you are on what would constitute your fortieth libation.

Somehow you don’t care.


In the hospital you call the second house where you are staying at on Heading avenue near to where you work but nobody is home. You call your mom and nobody answers. There is something about the hallway that is reminiscent of a thoroughly sterilized ice cube tray. You don’t have your cell phone on you.

You are trying to think of people to call.

When your father died at the rival hospital across the street you got pissed off and left the room minutes after died. Watching life leak from someone’s flesh in person wasn’t at all like watching someone die of a terminal illness on TV. Your father’s face was the color of a penny found in the ashtray of car. His lips were open. He was fighting for breath. He skin was bloated. When life did leak out of him everything inside his body released itself out from beneath his waistline and a noxious odor filled the room.

You left the room looking for something to break or an orderly to punch there was a pause, a searing cathartic moment of recognition when you realized that you would never encounter the musk of his scent again or hear the gentle sway of his voice. There was a pause and there was chimes. A lullaby pervading in mobile-octaves echoing throughout the linoleum of  the building.

It feels like a dream through prism cubes of tears. You ask the nearby nurse what that sound is.

She tells you it’s a lullaby. You say no shit.

“Every time a baby is born in the hospital we play a lullaby signaling new life.” She says, sounding like she just graduated from Goosebumps.

“Well, my dad just died,” You say, “When someone dies you should play a funeral dirge to balance things out. You should play ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’ by Metallica. Better  yet you should play ‘Creeping Death,’—Creeping Death would be more apropos. Don’t you think?”  

The nurse just looks at you like you are crazy. She tells you she is sorry for your loss but she believes that life goes on.

“Where does life go on to?” You feel like telling her, only you don’t because you are starting to cry.



In the Owl’s Nest you sit next to Scooter who wears overalls and has a beard. Rachel has given you three Budweiser’s gratis and while you normally don’t drink Budweiser you refuse to turn down a free beer.

“Budweiser ain’t worth two shits.” Scooter says, taking a swig from his Busch bottle.

You ask him why. He points to the bottle like reading the fine print on a home pregnancy test.

“See here, Budweiser… it’s a rice filtered beer. That means no taste. That’s the problems with you kids. You don’t give two shits about taste. Just want to get fucked up all the time and not taste anything  that's real.”

You agree. Rachel is smiling. She swivels off the cap to another bottle of Bud and plants it in front of you like a flower in spring. Scooter is talking politics. Like Mike’s the Nest is unusually packed for a Sunday afternoon outside of football season.  You have no clue where you are. It seems like everything is beginning to fold and eclipse around the contours of your vision. Your are still nodding at everything wise old sage Scooter is saying. Rachel is on the other end of the bar attending patrons.

You are almost out of money.

You have been pounding beers for nine hours.

There is a voice behind you.

“Hey you. You’re cute. Want  to go outside for a cigarette?”

She looks like albino peanut brittle. She has bad teeth and is lanky and her breast size might adequately be described as lower case a-cup.

You grab your beer and go outside. The blonde headed girl is emaciated. She keeps tweaking her nose. She offers you a smoke. For some reason you have your arm around her.

“Want to get some powder?” She inquires

You say what. She says blow. You say oh.

You don’t do cocaine. You forget about Rachel and concentrate on the task at hand. It is pushing five pm on a perfect Sunday spring afternoon.

The Bulls won it in double overtime.
The series is now tied two-two.


The only other person’s number you can think of to call off the top of your head is Nick the Writer, who never picks up. Nick is your closest writing bro. The two of you used to be out three nights a week talking about literature and just getting bombed and then Nick disappeared and started attending AA and got clean.

Surprisingly Nick picks up on the first ring.

He says he will be right over.

While you are waiting a doctor looks at you funny and tilts his head and says your first name aloud. He is your age and he is a friend of your brother-in-law who is a doctor. He treated you in the ER when you had your nervous breakdown over the red headed girl and then two weeks later he showed up at Thanksgiving and the two of you became friends.

“Go crazy over another girl?” The successful ER doctor asks, a bachelor party smile hinted into his lips.

“No. They found me passed out at the cemetery. I was fine put they wanted to get me checked out.”

He looks and nods. He tells you that he read your charts.

“That’s a lot of booze you had in your system, there. I mean, man, you know how to party.”

You smile.

“They said when they found you you kept on saying that everything was pessimistic.”

“Perspicuous.” You amend.

“What does that mean?” He inquires.

“It means clear. Perspicuous is when everything is clear as a bell.”

“Oh,” he says, nodding his head up and down before telling you to take it easy adding man, you guys know how to party. Man you guys know how to party.


You walk down Waverly avenue holding your beer like a souvenir stalactite your arm around the girl you just met. Everything is opening and closing. It is spring. Your vision feels like it is a periscopic lens trying to squint out in surveillance in the middle of a rose.

“Do you always walk down the street carrying a beer?” the seedy girl inquires, looking into her phone.

“This is West Peoria. The cops are pretty cool here. It’s like family.”

She seems alarmed. You arrive at the cemetery she tells you to place your beer under your shirt. She looks into her phone and texts.

“He should be here in fifteen minutes.” She says.  You ask who. She says the guy who is bringing her the powder.

“I’m giving him my link card and pin number. There’s some places in the Southside you can still get cigarettes and beer using your link card if you know the guy.”

You nod again. You are caressing your fingers against the far side of her cheekbone. Her skin looks like used grade school paper.

“Hey,” she says, “Are you into Meth?”

“What?”  You ask, tilting sideways, looking for your bed. You think about going down to the tunnel in Braldey park and looking for the red headed girl who left you, wondering if you traipsed all the way to the back of the tunnel what you would find her there.

“Meth. You know. Meth.”

You’re not into meth. You are just into beer. You try to make a joke. You tell her that you were pretty good at meth in high school, you know aye-squared plus bea-squared equals sea squared.

She just looks at you funny.

“Fucking on Meth is the best. I mean. It’s like an out worldly experience. It’s like fucking on an Alien ship.”

“As long as you don’t have sex in the chair in a dentist’s office I guess it can’t be that bad.” You say. Goddamit you don’t know where you are and you have nothing in your life but you still have your wit. She looks like she doesn’t get it. She looks into the eyelash of her phone again. You wish that you never stopped at the Owl’s Nest. You don’t know where you are at. There are tombstones that look like granite briefcases stuck into the earth, perhaps being pushed out from the ashy dregs of those interred beneath are starting to shoot at you, racing into your vision, the vernal splash of freshly mowed grass biting into the side of your face, airbrushing against a balcony of time  before all is book of Genesis in the beginning blank and the next think you know there is an eight year old girl on a pink bicycle asking you if you are okay, saying mister, mister.

Asking if you are alive.
Those with ears will hear.


You find yourself in the front seat of Nick the writer’s SUV and he is driving you home Nick the writer is talking to you like he is a camp counselor and you just got in trouble for sneaking across the pond after hours to go on a panty raid at the girls’ camp.

“You are killing yourself! You know this, man? You are fucking killing yourself.”

You nod and say you know.

“There is no excuse for you to be getting wasted like this every single day. You have too much talent. What do you think your father would say if he saw you drinking like this everyday?”

You try not to look into the translucent reflection in the windshield in front of  you as you tell your brother Nick that your dad is dead.

“ When are you going to go to a meeting? When are you going to get everything in your life straightened out?”

You tell him that last time you tried A.A. it just didn’t work for you. He tells you that’s no excuse. He tells you that you have been given a gift. He tells you that the amount of alcohol idling in your system could have easily killed someone who weighed fifty pounds less than you. He tells you that the one thing a corpse and a keg has in common is that they are both initially cold and then go stale.

“I’ll go this week,” You tell him. Looking at your reflection in the windshield again. Conical traffic lights shooting in your direction coronate aura’s around your reflection, making you look like you just achieved a level of illumination, of bodhisattva breeding Nirvana.

“When this week. When are you going to go?”

“I’ll go tomorrow. There’s an eleven o’clock meeting in the morning at Hilltop. I need to work tonight.”

Nick stops in front of your house and drops you off.  It is 10:15. You have just enough time to burn through a resuscitating shower and pound a pot of coffee before you clock into work at eleven.

“You are killing yourself man. You are just fucking killing yourself.”

Nick says, instead of saying goodbye.


At work you spend eight hours more or less sitting staring at the picture of the red headed girl on the computer screen in front of you. Employing the cursory arrowhead of the mouse it’s almost like you are idling a feather over her cheekbones.

You don’t want to write. You don’t want to drink. You just want to look at the picture.

When you click on her facebook profile you see pictures of her with the pubic-bearded artist cavorting around Europe.

She is smiling.


You come home from work at seven a.m. in the morning. You have been up for almost forty hours. You are exhausted. You told your friend Nick the Writer that you would go to an AA meeting and get your life together this morning.

You lied.

There is some other place you need to go.

You are going to do it this time.

You find yourself walking through the patch of dead trees behind your house, taking the path off of Heading avenue into the Nuclear woods. You finding yourself walking down Farmington rd. You stop at the Casey’s gas station across the street from Crusens. You purchase and six pack and a few cheap cigarillos.

You try not to think of the red headed girl.

You find yourself outside the tunnel in the lower level of Bradley park. You crack open a beer and drown it in one gulp. You pull yourself up on the cement ledge besotted with gangsta graffiti. Slowly, as if a confirmand tasting a communion wafer you enter the metallic palate of the tunnel. When you get ten feet in you look both ways before slowly unbuttoning your shirt. You pinch at your waist and slice off your jeans and boxers and then peel off your socks one at a time.

You are totally naked and you are walking into darkness knowing that whatever you find once you reach the end of the tunnel will somehow bring you back home.

Such Darkness. Such Light.


No comments:

Post a Comment