| Day 1
It is a cold day in October when I heard the voice of God. And what a voice it was. It boomed inside my skull, reverberated off the cranial walls, shaking my brain and dropping me to my knees. The day started normal enough, an uneventful morning, followed by a mind numbingly dull day of work. I changed in the funky smelling locker room and rushed through the lobby and outside into the urban hell, which sprawled in all directions before me. That is when I was mentally assaulted, a tiny jet going Mach 8 inside my skull, the sonic boom causing cracks to spread across the bone plates, the pain dropping me. People on the street stared and kept walking, my body slicing the flow of traffic like a scalpel through flesh. This being New York, they have seen it all. To them I am just another nutjob in a city full of them. My eyes feel like they are being pushed out of my sockets. I could picture them popping like some monstrous pus filled zit. Somehow despite the pain, a line from Slayer’s “Angel of Death” flashes through my mind “Pumping fluid inside your brain. The pressure in your skull begins pushing through your eyes.” If I were not in agony I would laugh.
Suddenly, a voice oozed out from amidst the pain. “YOU HAVE BEEN CHOSEN! CHOSEN TO CLEANSE THE FILTH THAT DWELLS IN THIS CITY!” You may be wondering what the voice sounded like. Try to imagine a giant Barry White with a slight English accent.
I have gone insane is what I think to myself. Right here right now kneeling in dirty snow. All that acid and angel dust and ecstasy I’ve taken have finally caught up with me and caused my synapses to severe and basically just fucked my brain up. Right here on the corner of 31st and seventh. On my knees clutching my head. Feeling like a flock of birds is fluttering around trapped inside my brain box. I refuse to accept that God has actually spoken to me. I’m not religious at all. I hate church and I feel religion is overrated and a tool to keep the masses in check. Since I’m now crazy I wonder how I know it’s the voice of god and not just a loud as fuck regular joe voice in my head Weird. I’ve brushed myself off and continue down into Penn Station. I love Penn Station. It’s full of bums and crazies. People shun them and avoid them. Not me. I like talking to the mentally disturbed. They offer a unique perspective. Who is to say that they are crazy? Reality is what you perceive. And even if they are crazy its not their fault. Its not like you wake up in the morning scratch your balls (or pussy, they get itchy too) and think to yourself “You know what? I think ill go fucking nuts today and wander the streets with a tinfoil jacket and talk to myself.” Talk to enough maniacs and every now and than you will get a little nugget of wisdom out of their ramblings.
My musings on the mentally disturbed aside, I made my way through the station towards the E train. I pass two police officers standing near the turnstiles. I notice one of them, a burly looking guy with a mustache, staring at me. I stare back. It seems like time has stopped, my eyes bore into his mind and I pierce the veil, I see his thoughts or rather I think his thoughts. ”Look at this guy. I’m sure he’s a fucking maniac or freak or some kind of degenerate. Filthy pants, bags under his eyes, probably a junkie.” Surprisingly I’m not shocked at being able to understand his thoughts, Strange, Reality snaps back into focus and I continue walking down the platform. Fucking cops.
I exit the train station and enter my neighborhood. I live in Brooklyn. In what has become the trendiest neighborhood in the city. Hipsters and yuppies are drawn to this neighborhood like flies to shit. Like priests to young boys, like Germans to scat porn. Everything seems slightly off. Like I’m viewing things through cheesecloth. Damn voice of god had to ruin my day. I walk a few blocks until I get near the church around the corner from my apartment. I look up at the huge cross at the top. As I stare at the cross it begins to shine with a bright white light. Like the whole thing is made of sunlight turned solid. The cross begins to pulse.
With each pulse I hear that damn voice again.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Cleanse the filth of this city. What am I some holy fucking janitor. I try to ignore the voice and I keep walking towards my apartment.
I approach my stoop when I notice a dirty Polish bum lying near the trashcans. Time goes all slow motion. ”Just one sip. One sip and ill be fine. Mmmm, The warm rush down my throat. To ease my bone aches to ease my mind. It’s all I need. All I want.”
Reality hits me like a smack in the face. Pitiful, this wretched man. How did he come to this, laying in the street fiending for some alcohol. I reach into my pocket and pull out a wad of bills. I shove the money into his grimy hand and tell him to go get a bottle of vodka. The man is so overjoyed I can see tears welling up in his eyes, like a zombie he shuffles off towards the liquor store. Ok, I know what your thinking. I’m not helping his situation by giving him money for booze. Fuck that I felt his need and his pain, I know what its like to want.
I enter my apartment. Not much. One bedroom. A living room, a sarcophagus sized bathroom that makes me claustrophobic every time I take a shit and a crusty little kitchen. There is a small crucifix hanging above the doorway to my bedroom, it was my mothers. Sentimental value and all that shit. Unsurprisingly it’s glowing and pulsing.
Fwoomp. Before I hear anymore I tear the cross off the wall snap it in half open my bedroom window and toss it out. I hear someone say “Ow!” I look out and see the same bum from before cradling a bottle of Georgi vodka in his right hand and rubbing his head with the other. The broken cross, no longer pulsing, lays at his feet .I could make a clever metaphor about the bums life and broken faith, but why bother I peel my clothes off like ‘m some flesh banana, Collapsing into bed my eyes close and I drift off into the surreality of my dreams. Gods voice faintly echoes in my head through my eyes and into the sky.
I awake. Open my gummy eyes and think to myself. What a crazy fucking dream. At least I hope it was a dream. No. It was a dream. I shower and do the whole morning routine. I hate work. But I love the money. Cant live without money. Can’t make money unless you work. Life sucks and then you die. As I leave my building I see the drunk from last night .He is standing on the corner, in his right hand he is waving a taped up crucifix. Hmmm. It looks familiar. I’m distracted by his shouts
”I have been shown a sign!!!! The lord forgives and he heals!!!! Hear my words!!!! No longer will I drink my life away!!!!!!
From drunken bum to Jesus freak overnight. Ah the lord he works in mysterious ways. I laugh to myself and continue on to the train.
I buy a metro card swipe my way in and wait for the next train. I’m a little zoned out. Thinking about that crazy dream. The train rumbles into the station like a metallic segmented creature. I see a seat available as the doors slide open. To my right I see an elderly woman making her way to the seat. I put on a burst of speed and slide into the seat before she gets there. She looks down at me and frowns. Fuck you grandma, I think to myself .You broads wanted equal rights that’s cool. She can stand just like a man could.
Directly across from me is a busty young Spanish woman her coat is open and she is showing miles of cleavage. I focus on her luscious flesh bags, My eyes, spelunking into her crevasse. I’m picturing my face buried in between her tits. A massive hard-on is spawned in my pants. I keep staring and I notice a small gold crucifix on a chain. The crucifix is cradled between her love humps. It begins to glow and pulse. FUCK. My erection instantly retreats into the safety of my body. God and hard-ons don’t mix.
Fwoomp. I quickly getup and move to the next car. Damn I guess it wasn’t a dream. I guess I really am insane. I take deep breaths and try and calm myself. What the hell does god want with me anyway?
The train stops on 34th Street and I push my way through the flock of sheep in suits. I’m kind of freaked out. Hopefully work will take my mind off the fact that I’m hearing voices. Well, a voice.
A little something about my job, I’m a security guard. Or as my supervisor says “We are security officers!” I work for this huge global pharmaceutical mega-corporation. Its boring work but it has its perks. For instance I have access to lots of drugs, all types of pills and good stuff. For example just 2 days before I was covering my friends’ overnight shift. I got bored and started poking around the lab. Found a small container of pills. There was only five in there. I read the label. Relaxerils. Nice, some heavy-duty painkillers. I spill the pills into my palm. They tumble out like little pebbles. Three are blue circles but there are two white oblong ones also. I examine the odd pills. There is something written on them. VOG-2.and on the other side a small cross or maybe a little plus sign. Whatever! I popped all five. Caught a nice buzz off of them too. So like I said there are perks to the job.
I should be hungry, usually I am hungry by this time. I’m not. A quick glance at the huge clock mounted on the lobby wall tells me its 12 noon. Break time. Finally. I’ve been floating around all morning. My mind is somewhere else, somewhere dark, damp and shitty smelling. My gut feels like its been stomped on. I old-man shuffle my way to the bathroom.
A face with the complexion and the color of old oatmeal, bags under its eyed, stares at me from the mirror. I feel like god chewed me up and shit me out and now I’m just steaming and slowly cooling in the wind. Soon to turn into a white, powdery dried up turd of a man. Haven’t heard Him all morning. Good. Good. Hope to never hear that voice again. It could have just been an acid flashback. I’ve taken acid, mushrooms, peyote, tons of hallucinatory drugs. I’m an experienced mental voyager. It could also mean I’m crazy. No. I’m not crazy. I know I’m not. Sure maybe not some “normal”, mainstream clone, but not crazy. I turn on the faucet and the sound of the flowing water soothes me. I splash some on my face and its coldness jolts me alert. Cools my fevered thoughts like some kind of Mentos for the mind. I picture my mind sizzling like a crack rock being smoked from a pipe. Air. Need some fresh air.
While leaving the bathroom and walking through the lobby I avoid eye contact with all the people I come across. Who knows what they’re thinking. I push through the revolving doors, into the crowded streets. Hundreds of people move and bustle. So congested, its as if they are one massive pile of flesh. They writhe like maggots on a corpse. We are maggots. Feasting on the dying flesh of this city, this filthy city. It must be cleansed.
Standing there staring at all these strangers, living simultaneously together, oblivious of each other, each one striving to succeed for the almighty I. I’m disgusted. Maybe god has a point. What the fuck!?! It’s like bandits hijacked the freight train of my thoughts. Me, the conductor, tied up and helpless to stop the train. Forced to watch. Forced to question myself. I stand across the street from Penn Station smoking a cigarette. Watching the flow of humanity. A homeless black man stands at the top of the escalator coming up from the station. He is talking to himself. People are forced to squeeze by him. His mangy mass disrupts the flow like pubic hair clogging a drain. I feel the same. Like I’m crazy and alone and the rest of the world is passing by me, while I can’t even comprehend what is going on. Well I guess the fresh air didn’t help.
The rest of the day passes in a blur. Co-workers comment on my unusual silence. “Sick.” is what I tell them. “Must be a bug going round’”. They accept my explanation without further comment. They don’t care enough to probe further. Almost makes me wish they would. Be nice to tell someone. Tell them what, that I hear the voice of god? Like I don’t get enough crazy looks from them as it is. 4:00PM. I’m free. Outside the corporate whores scuttle towards the trains like hermit crabs with shells made out of misery and ignorance. Both are a good defense, causing one to be callous to the world. They are free to return to their homes and families for the night. Only for the night, because their souls are forever shackled to the vast corporate machine, the machine that constantly churns out Product for us to consume. And what good little consumers we are. Fat greedy gluttons. Feasting until our stomachs are full. Regurgitating masticated chunks of product through our esophagus, because there is no more room in our stomach sacs. And still we hunger and crave for more. Always more.
Blending in with the crowd I serpentine my way towards the train. There is an old woman standing next to the turnstiles with a homemade billboard on her chest. A stream of clones block my view of what it says. I hear her ranting something about redemption and as I move through the turnstile, out of the corner of my eye, I see a cross drawn in marker on cardboard, begin to glow and throb. Eyes quickly squeezed shut, I shove my way blindly through the mass of people on the platform. A chorus of “Asshole!”, “Watch it pal!” and an odd “Kurva!” follow in my wake. I make it to the end of the platform.
For those of you who have ever been at the far end of the 34th Street E train station, you may notice that most of the time it smells like shit. The source of the smell is never evident. Can never be seen, but always smelled. A fresh smell that causes you to stop and check if you stepped in shit or check if someone, without your knowledge, gave you a Filthy Fuhrer (when a person smears shit on your upper lip directly beneath the nostrils, thus giving the recipient a look resembling, Adolf Hitler; Also known as the Crappy Chaplin.). Phantom shit smells. Spooky. Today is no exception. Nostrils full of fecal stench, I stare down the tunnel and think of crawling down there. Burrowing into the mounds of trash. Blanketing myself from the world above and just laying there until my body dies and putrefies and becomes just another undistinguishable heap of trash.
The opening of the subway doors right in front of my face startles me out of my stupor. I walk in and grab the first seat right next to the doors. To my right sits a young schoolgirl, her age maybe 11 or 12 years old. She is wearing a catholic school uniform, her bony legs jutting from beneath her skirt, her right hand absentmindedly picking at a scab on her right knee. Half the scab is still attached, the other loose from the skin. She lifts the scab up a little bit, exposing the moist red pulpy flesh beneath, than lowers it. Lifts. Than, lowers. Each time she lifts tiny strands of mucus cling and stretch, attached, scab to flesh. Just rip the fucking thing off already, I think to myself. Masochistic freak. I continue people watching, across from me and slightly to my left sits a creepy looking guy, skinny, wearing thick glasses, hair starting to thin. He is intensely focused on something. I follow his eyes and see he is staring at the scab girl. I look at the perv. His forehead has a faint sheen of perspiration, eyes gleaming, lusting. I continue to stare in his eyes unable to look away. Time turns to sludge. “So sweet, so young. Oh what I would do to her. Yes. Yes I will do it. Follow her. Wait. Than have my way. Oh I can taste her already.” I wrench my eyes away from the slime bag. My mind feels dirty. My stomach churns. That sick fuck! Someone should do something. That evil fuck! Who am I kidding? What can I do? How can I be sure that he will even try and hurt that girl, I am crazy after all. How can--My thoughts are cut short by the sight of the scab girl walking out the train and a second later being followed by the pervert. She’ll be ok. Nothing is gonna happen. She’ll be fine. Is my last thought as the train pulls away and the image of the girl on the platform grows smaller, smaller. Gone!
Vicious stomach pains wake me. Rushing to the bathroom I stub my toe on a kitchen chair. Toe throbbing, stomach rumbling I plop my ass onto the cool porcelain. A shotgun blast of diarrhea explodes into the toilet bowl. Leaving a psychedelic pattern of creamy feces on the inside of the bowl. Like some twisted Rorschach test. What do you see? The start of another horrible day. I put on some music, turn the TV to a news channel and start to make myself some breakfast. Thankfully my mind is currently blank. No wacky thoughts. Deceased’s “The Funeral Parlors’ Secret” blasting in the background, I sink into the couch like a body being absorbed by the Blob. Crunching on my cereal. Absentmindedly watching the talking heads on screen. A news story catches my attention. I lower the music so I can hear what is going on. Newsanchor: “A 13 year old school girl was brutally assaulted and raped in Queens late last night. A knot of apprehension forms in my gut. “She was followed by an unidentified man.” Due to her age, the girl’s name is not mentioned; her picture is not shown either. My gut tells me it is the girl from the subway last night. “What police believe to be the suspect was caught on camera, in the park near the rape scene, only a few minutes before the rape occurred.” A black and white scene from a park security camera shows a blurry image of a man walking by in the distance. The man is too far. It is too indistinct to see any features. “If you have any information regar-“I turn the T.V off. My mind is rocked. Kicked in its balls. It could have been any girl. It could also be any of the maniacs in this city that raped her. The video footage of the rapist doesn’t resemble the pervert from the train, but that doesn’t mean anything. The rape went down in Queens. They both got off on 23rd and Ely, the first stop in Queens. It is too much of a coincidence. Besides that I feel 100% sure, actually I’ve never felt so sure about anything in my life, that the rapist is the guy I saw on the train. The guy who’s thoughts I heard. I knew what he was thinking. I could have done something. I should have done something. Maybe I’m not crazy. Maybe I have been chosen. Oh the poor girl. My thoughts rage inside me, like a 50’s biker gang tearing through a small suburban town. With hoarse laughter they harass the innocent citizens of my mind. I can’t let some shit like this happen again. I can’t keep ignoring His voice and this fucking “gift” I’ve been given. Guess God has a plan for me and it looks like I’m finally coming around to it.
After five rings and than being forced to listen to cheesy-ass-fuck-you’re-on-hold music, my boss picks up. “Remember that bug I was talking about? It’s gotten worse. I wont be able to make it to work for a few days.” He replies but all I catch is “your health” and “important”. It’s hard to focus. “Yeah just use my sick days. I’ll be good as new soon.” I say. In response all I hear is more mumbling and half words from his end. I force out a “Thank you. Have a good day sir.” Asshole.
I get dressed and zoom down the stairs. Brisk, frigid air batters my face while exiting the building. I inhale the air with gorilla nostril efficiency. It rejuvenates me, an infusion of calm. I feel like I have a purpose, what purpose? It is yet to be determined. But I feel the tug of something, this pull on my heart, soul and the last to follow, my mind. I am reluctant to accept but the proof was before me, me, of all people. So be it. I don’t feel like a prophet. I feel like a fucking lunatic. But I guess people thought Jesus was a lunatic and look how he turned out, besides all the nailed to the cross shit.
Times Square. In the 80s it was the center of debauchery. Pimps, whores, hustlers, drug dealers, murders, trannys, rapists, freaks, weirdos, all denizens of the square. Those good old days are gone. Now Disney is the new pimp on the block. Times Square is just one huge advertisement, assaulting the senses with color and Gigantor sized video screens. The bright lights drawing tourists like moths to a flame. The scum is still there, just hidden from view, a polluted current, flowing beneath what can be seen at first glance.
The Naked cowboy jams on his guitar while slack jawed, wide-eyed tourists bask in the mainstream glory of corporate sponsorship. If I listen closely I can almost hear the screams of peoples’ individuality dying. Standing in the middle of Times Square, I scan the faces of the passing people like the Predator searching for the perfect skull, but I’m not looking for skulls. I’m searching for something a little less concrete than that, evil and thoughts of harming others, thoughts of committing crimes. Full of Gods fury like some televangelist ranting while saliva flies from his mouth. “Show yourselves to me sinners!!!! Show yourselves so that I may cleanse the demons that plague your minds!!!!!” I stare into the passing eyes. Nothing. No time freezes. No hearing their thoughts. God-powers go!! Activate!!! My holy might refuses to manifest. What if I imagined the whole thing with the schoolgirl. Shit God, you are making this “cleanse the city of filth” business real difficult. And just when I started believing you.
Munching on a dirty water dog that I bought from a terrorist looking vendor, I act like a tourist and just wander around the area. Why did I come here? What was I expecting? I would leave the train, read the thoughts of a rapist and bring him to justice? I’ve already seen a few crosses, but they didn’t glow or pulse. I guess he knows that I know what I have to do.
I pass the time by checking out the parade of gorgeous women’s asses. Asses in jeans, asses in slacks, asses in skirts, asses in sweatpants. I focus on a young woman, in her 20s, who has a particularly rotund posterior. A purse swings from her right side, in time to the bounce of her ass. As I watch a teenage kid bumps into her on the purse side. ”Sorry miss” he says. The woman just mean-mugs him and keeps walking. I notice the kid stash something under his shirt as he walks by. I look in his eyes. Everythiiiiiinnnggg sllooowwwssss. You know the routine.
During my mental eavesdropping I hear “Yes. This lady is ballin’. I know I got at least a hundred bucks and a straight up legit Louis Vutton wallet. This bitch aint playin’.”
Back in real-time I begin to follow the kid down 44th Street towards 8th Ave. Before he reaches the corner I reach out and grab him by the shoulder, pulling him around.
“What the fuck man! What’s your problem!”
“You’re my problem. I think you have something that doesn’t belong to you.”. For some reason I’m incredibly angry. More than I should be. “You think god didn’t see you steal that wallet? You think he’s blind?”
“You’re fucking crazy man!” he responds while trying to twist out of my grip.
My eagle claw holds him. “I am Gods eyes in this city! You will be punished!”
I look around and spot a police officer up the block. “Officer! Officer! I need some assistance!”
The cop looks bored as he walks over. “Yes?” he says.
“This little punk lifted a woman’s wallet.”
The thief wriggles in my grip. “He’s crazy man! Don’t listen to him! He’s a pervert he tried to touch me just now!”
“Check under his shirt.” I say.
The cop lifts up the kids’ shirt and reveals a wallet sticking out of his waistband. “Thank you sir. More people like you and this city would be crime free.”
I watch the kid get cuffed and led away. My mind is floating. A sense of extreme euphoria fills my being. Like a warm golden light traveling through my veins. Wow. Who would have thought that doing gods work gives you such a high? I pleasure-bounce my way back towards the train. “I am Gods eyes!” Damn, that’s a pretty good fucking line. Cant’ forget it.
By the time I get home it’s almost 5:00PM. I spent a few hours just walking around Manhattan, ramped up on righteousness. All was right with world. Nothing could get me down. Proof that I am not crazy has taken a huge soul-crushing weight off my shoulders.
I spend the rest of the day just chilling out on my couch with the T.V. on, not really watching at all. I go to bed before midnight and lay down. God’s love, I guess that is as good a explanation as any, still caressing me like a gentle lover as I drift off into the land of nightmares and dreams.
I arise from my slumber feeling refreshed and energized. Criminals beware, Gods eyes are watching! Chuckling to myself I go the bathroom to relieve my bloated bladder. I haven’t felt this good in a long time. Remnants of my holy high still linger in my thoughts. If I’m going to go all vigilante, I will need a weapon to protect myself. I’m bound to come across more dangerous people than just pickpockets. The face of the pervert from the train flashes in my mind. He better hope I don’t ever find him. A pile of crusty plates and utensils sits in the sink, untouched for days. Vigilantes don’t have time form dishes. I open the drawer next to the sink and look at the knives inside. I pull a huge steak knife, sunlight from the window flashes on the blade. No, too big. I don’t think a knife is gonna cut it. No pun intended. Maybe I should call Oscar.
Oscar is my sick-in-the-head cousin. When we were younger we would do all types of crazy shit. Once we stole a box of condoms from the corner store, filled the tips up with mayonnaise and tied them to the doorknobs of homes all over the block. We would than go to the roof of our building with binoculars and watch peoples reactions when they come home and find a cum filled condom on their doorknob. Another time Oscar came with a great idea. We scrounged up five, one-dollar bills, and using rubber gloves and a plastic butter knife, we smeared dog shit on one side of the bills. We than strategically placed the bills, shitty side down, all over our block. People would see the money and happily rush to pick up the bill. They would pick it up and get shit all over their fingers, pockets, and wallets. Ha Ha. Jokes on you, yeah I know, we were fucked up. It gets worse.
Like I said Oscar is twisted. You know that one kid that likes to torture animals. That’s him. One day in the summer, I must have been 13, Oscar was 15 and I got a call from Oscar telling me to meet him down by the abandoned docks by the East River. It was one of my favorite hangouts. Abandoned buildings, bums, danger and hiding places, every teenage boy’s wet dream. I crawled through the hole in the fence that went around the whole area. I could see Oscar moving around near the water. We had a “club house” right on the edge. It was actually an old rusty storage container with the side facing the water missing. The container was perched on a concrete pier. The open end stuck out a few feet above the water. I approached and he waved me over to our clubhouse. Something whimpered as I drew closer. Oscar was standing inside with a grin resembling an insane clown. I followed my ears towards the source of the whimpering. It was a dog, a mangy looking street mutt. The dog was hanging in the middle of the room. Its front and back paws tied spread eagle to the walls resembling an X. A sick feeling formed in my stomach at that moment. Oscar just kept grinning and pulled out this one-foot long Rambo knife. Oscar loved knives. He always carried one on him ad this one was particularly sharp and nasty.
“This traitor refuses to give up any information!!!” Oscar says. “His punishment is death. It would have been quick and painless if he only spoke. His silence buys him horrible pain.” I just stood there dumbstruck. Oscar always played these kinds of games but nothing like this. If it were a cat I wouldn’t mind as much, but a dog? Who doesn’t love dogs? In this day and age you murder a human and its no big deal, but animal cruelty and the media will crucify you. Oscar stepped in front of the whining animal. I tried to tell him something but my efforts were half-assed. Oscar raised the knife and swiftly plunged it into the dogs’ chest. He than pulled down and sliced its stomach open. It split like a rotten melon. The dog let loose with the most horrifying scream I have ever heard. It thrashed around, but the ropes held it secure. I couldn’t wrench my eyes away from the site. The dog hanging, slightly twitching as its slimy intestines hung from its eviscerated stomach. The tips of the intestines just barely brushed the ground like the touch of a ghost. The wind blew, gently rocking the corpse, a gull cried in the distance and Oscars laughter bounced of the steel container walls. If you listened closely you would have heard a sound like a stained glass window breaking, it was my innocence being shattered. I avoided Oscar for weeks after that incident.
Oscar went on to have multiple arrests and multiple drug problems. We still stay in touch with each other but nothing like the carefree days of our youth. Sometimes I still have nightmares about that dog. Hanging there, gutted, but with Oscars laugh coming out of its dead mouth.
Oscar lives on the Southside in Williamsburg. The grasping tendrils of gentrification have already spread here but his block is still rundown and condo free. A decrepit red brick building looms before me. The windows on the third floor are missing. In its place are black trash bags stretched across the frame. There is a pile of cigar guts on the top step of the stoop. I step over them and open the graffiti covered door and step into the gloomy hallway. A single light bulb hangs from the ceiling, flickering every few seconds. The paint is cracked and peeling and no longer a real color, just a washed out yellowish-gray. Some people would say this is a crackhouse. Now there are crackheads here and it is a house, but a crackhouse is way worse than this. This place would be the Ritz for a crackhead. Walking up the creaky stairs to the second floor, I can hear a couple arguing somewhere above. The sounds of junkie love. In my opinion there is nothing more powerful than love between two junkies. No matter what they will stick together. They will fight and claw at each other over the last bag of heroin, than the next day are happily scheming on how to get more, totally in love. Devoted to smack, devoted to each other.
My fist smashes against an old wooden door.
Great, by his rapid-fire delivery I can tell he’s tweaked out.
“It’s me.” I tell the door. Sounds of someone moving reach my ears through the wood.
“Whothefuckisme?” Oscar says.
“Your favorite cousin.” I respond.
Multiple chains and bolts rattle. The door opens and Oscar is silhouetted in the doorframe. He is wearing a stained G-Unit style wife-beater, his hair sticking up all over the place, pupils dilated to the size of quarters. He looks worse than when I saw him 4 months ago.
“Sorryman.Ithoughtyouwereanotherjunkie.Theybeenbangingonmydoorallday.IfuckingtoldthemIgotnomoreuntiltommorrow. Junkies, whatdoyouexpect?” He cackles like a hyena on laughing gas.
Oh yeah, Oscar is a drug dealer. Has been for years. He sells everything from pot, coke, crystal meth(his personal favorite), heroin, magic mushrooms, when in season and anything else that can get a human being high.
I close the door and step into the filthy apartment. The pungent smell of smoked crystal meth hangs in the air, the smoke is still slightly visible, hanging above the room like mist over a harbor town. On the coffee table there is a blackened glass meth pipe and next to it, a pile of crystal goodness. A naked, skeletal woman is sprawled on the couch. Her right arm hangs off the couch, revealing track marks and scabs all over the inside of her arm. Oscar notices me looking at her.
“Youwanttohitthatpussyman? Heybitch! Wakeupandfuckmycousin!” he yells.
“No that’s cool, Oscar. Thanks anyway.”
“Youfuckingsureman? ThishocansuckanapplethroughastrawifyouknowwhatImean?” He laughs maniacally. “Grabaseatman.”
I look around the room and don’t see any chairs. I brush a stack of Playboys, which look like they’re from the 1970s, off of a milkcrate and sit down. I look in Oscars’ eyes expecting time to slow and his thoughts to be revealed. Nothing happens. I’m grateful. I do not want to take a dip in that cesspool.
Oscar is filling his pipe with meth. He lights it and inhales. Holding his breath he asks “SowhatcanIdoforyoucuz?”
I feel like a criminal but it is necessary. “I need some protection.” I tell him.
“Yeahnofuckingproblem.Thereisaboxofcondomsinthekitchen.” he says as smoke escapes from his mouth like steam seeping from a sewer grate.
“Not that kind of protection, Oscar. I need a weapon. A gun.” This grabs his attention.
“Ohyeah!Nowwefuckingtalking!” His pupils look bigger than before. The whites of his eyes lost in pools of black. He rushes over to a closet, opens the door and begins rummaging around. “Hereitis!” He returns with a big cardboard box in his hands. Oscar pushes the junkie girls legs off the couch and sits down. She doesn’t respond.
I just blink at him. “I don’t know what the fuck your talking about. I just want a gun.” I tell him honestly.
“Okmanhereyougo.” He hands me a silver gun“ThisisaGlock.Itscompactandreliable.Thisboxgotthebullets.” he says holding up a small box. Oscar than showed me how to load and unload the gun and how to hold it and use it properly. “Youwannashootitofffirst?’ he says enthusiastically.
“I’m not sure it’s a good idea. Someone will hear and call the cops.” I tell him. He just looks at me and laughs.
“Maninthisneighborhoodnobodygivesafuck!” He walks to the kitchen and opens the window. “Goaheadman!letthatfuckerrip!!” I step up to the window with the loaded gun. I take the safety off and stick the gun out the window.
“Thatsitman,justaimandfuckingsqueezethetrigger!!” Oscar says encouragingly. I aim at a pile of old tires in the backyard. BLAM! BLAM! BLAM! I squeezed off the shots in quick succession. I honestly can say that I liked the feeling of it. The power. I turn the safety on and retreat into the kitchen. I put the gun in my waistband and the box of bullets into my pocket. I take out my wallet and open it.
“How much do I owe you?”
I give Oscar a hug and thank him.
I head towards the door when I hear Oscar.
“Waitman.HereIjustgotthisweedfromAmsterdam.Thatshitisdankasfuck.” he slips a bag of weed into my hand. I thank him again and start to exit, but turn to face Oscar one more time.
“You’re not gonna ask me why I need a gun?”
I shake my head while walking down the stairs, Oscar’s laughter fading in my ears. I push open the door and see that there is a black teenager sitting on the stoop. I dig into my pocket and retrieve the bag of weed. I toss it into the kids lap.
A blank stare greets me in response.
I have better ways of getting high. The kid is already breaking up some of the weed in a folded dollar bill, not bothering to question his luck.
During the walk home I keep looking at all the people on the streets, wondering if they are hiding evil thoughts, but nothing is revealed to me. I pass by the church and glance up at the cross. A smile spreads across my face and I give the cross a wink. I should go to church sometime soon, pay a little tribute to the big G. I enter my apartment and decide to take a nap. I have to wait until night before I go out, because, if you haven’t heard, all the criminals and sickos come out at night.
Hours pass. I sit at my kitchen table, a half eaten bologna and cheese sandwich sits on a plate before me. I’m not that hungry. I feel incredibly anxious. I want to hit the streets. Do some good. And to be honest, I want to feel that rush again. To be touched by God. I can see the top of the church from my kitchen window. I feel a powerful urge to be inside, to just offer a quick prayer. A glance reveals the time to be 11:52PM. The church closes at midnight, I can still make it. I grab my jacket and tuck the gun into my waistband behind the back. I don’t know if it is right to bring a gun into church, I’m sure there are some moral implications, but I plan on going out after. I don’t feel like coming back here to pick it up, so in my waistband it stays.
St. Stanislaus Kostka church has stood for over one hundred years. Most of the people in the parish are Polish. That’s going to end soon. All these artsy-fartsy fucks have been moving in and causing rents to go up. A shitty 3 room railroad style apartment used to go for $700-$800. Now the landlords slaps some new paint on and charges $1.300. And there are more than enough buyers. It has gotten to the point where Polacks can’t afford it. There used to be a constant flow of polish immigrants. New faces, all with that European look. That flow has now turned into a trickle, the Poles finding cheaper neighborhoods in which to live. The European faces replaced by bearded hipsters, with their vintage t-shirts and ball-hugging jeans. Like a plague of locusts they swept through my home, but instead of leaving behind destruction and barren fields, they have left million dollar condos and trendy bars and cafes in their wake. I would have preferred the destruction and barren wastes.
I walk up the steps and push open the massive oak doors, well I’m not exactly sure if they are made of oak but grand doors like this seem to always be made of oak. The massive cavern of the church yawns before me, triggering a memory from my youth.
My mother tugs at my hand as she leads me up the church steps. Dad trails behind his mind probably on the game he is missing. We are dressed in our Sunday finest. I’m dressed in my little slacks and starched white shirt, the collar tight around my neck, choking me, causing me to gasp for breath. I’m right at that age where I’m still forced to go to church and not yet old enough to make my own choice on the matter. The doors open and reveal a sea of people. We are at the 10:00AM mass, the main mass of the day. 80% of the churchgoers are 60 years old and above. Their wrinkled bodies packed into the pews like geriatric Vienna sausages.. My parents and I make our way to an available pew. We squeeze past the people and take our seats. The stench of geriatric flesh, a smell like moldy furniture, and cheap perfume assaults my nose. All the old ladies dressed up in crappy polyester dresses that weren’t in fashion for years. They all crawl out of their homes and make their once a week appearance at church. Yes look at me. I am a good woman. Here every Sunday to be seen by the lord and by the neighbors. Spritzing themselves with their old lady perfumes. Why is it that old woman always wear nasty perfume? Does their sense of smell diminish with age? Does their taste in fragrance change with maturity? All I know is that the combination of smells creates a noxious cloud that covers the church. I stand looking at the backs of people starting to feel claustrophobic. The priests booming voice echoes off the walls. The stench is making me nauseous. I start to get hot. My head grows light. I begin to feel a massive pressure bearing down on me. Such a crushing force, that I swear, if I were a piece of coal the pressure would compact me into a diamond. My parents would mourn my death but they would always have the diamond that I became to remind them of me. I start to see spots in front of my eyes and not so gently, I pass out. My parents carried me out of church. I recovered hours later safely in my bed. That was the last time I have been in a church.
The church is almost totally empty. An old woman leaves a confessional and makes her way past me towards the exit. I see that one of the priests is still inside. On a whim I enter the confessional and begin to kneel. Before my knees touch the padding, midnight announces itself. I hear the churchbell give one short and not too loud ring, the sign that the church has concluded its services for the day.
Being as I am already kneeling and obviously not going anywhere, the priest says, “Yes my child? Tell me your sins.”
I look through the mesh that separates us, just making out the shape of a head and say “Well I don’t really have any sins to confess, I just wanted to speak with a priest.” I see the priest nod and hear him say “Go on.”
“I was never a religious person. I didn’t care for it. Recently though, some things have happened that have changed my beliefs. God. . .” I pause ” speaks to me.”
“Yes God speaks to us all. I am glad you have chosen to listen to his word.”
I am about to tell him that God literally speaks to me, not in the figurative sense he means but the priests’ voice sounds familiar. I lean in and press my face directly on the mesh divider. I am able to clearly make out the priests face. It is Father Romanski. The same priest who conducted the mass, all those years ago, where I passed out. I examine his face. He has aged a lot. He was a young man back then. Fresh out of priest college or wherever the fuck they learn how to be priests. Now wrinkles cover his face. A slight double chin is evident and his hair is thinning. I look in his eyes. Time ceases to flow. I begin to hear Father Romanskis’ thoughts. “When is this guy going to leave? I need to have a drink, just one drink. Well, maybe two.” It seems like my powers have grown since they last appeared, because suddenly, in my minds eye, I see what appear to be the fathers’ memories. I see Father Romanski at the end of mass, walking towards the rectory with multiple bags in his hands. I don’t know how, but I know that the bags are full of money from the collection plates. The next image shows Father sitting at his desk counting the money with a big smile. He pockets a huge wad of bills. The next scene shows Father once again at his desk. This time he appears to be altering the churches record book. Making it look like the church has taken in less profit than it really has. I know that he has been doing this for years. Next scene. Father Romanski is paying for a car in cash. The dealer smiles and shakes Fathers’ hand. Father jumps into his new convertible and drives away.
I am stunned. This man has been robbing the people of his own church for years, the people that come to him for guidance and comfort. The people he is supposed to be helping. I feel disgusted. Anger clouds my mind.
“So Father, tell me. How is your new car working out for you?”
The priest looks startled. “My . . . my car?”.
“Yes Father. Your new car that you bought with the money you stole.” I tell him with a sneer on my face. His eyes widen and bulge. It’s dim in here but I am sure his face turned red.
“How dare you!?! I am a man of God. I do now have to hear these preposterous accusations!!” he shouts and than stands and briskly exits the confessional. “Please leave. The church is now closed.”
. I stick my head out of my confessional and see Father Romanski, his robes billowing behind him, walking up the stairs to the altar and making a left into the rectory. I stand there for a second, hesitating, than follow the corrupt priest.
I quietly open the door and am greeted by the sight of Father Romanski pouring himself some wine from a crystal decanter, his hands shaking. I step inside the room’ my foot causing a loose floorboard to creak. Fathers’ eyes dart up to look at me. He spills some wine on his chest in his surprise.
“You can’t be back here! What do you want!?!” and upon getting a good look at the scowl on my face “Please don’t hurt me!”.
“Don’t hurt you? Like the way you hurt all those people you robbed? Like the way you hurt God? How can you live this lie? Preaching and handing out communion with one hand while picking their pockets with the other. Using your smooth words to blind desperate people.
“Do you really think you could you were fooling Him?” I say as I walk towards the man. He backs up a step, his arms raised defensively in front of him.
“Please. Please. What do you want? You want money? I have money!” he says and reaches for his wallet. I snort in disgust.
“I know where your money comes from, Father. It is money that doesn’t belong to you. Money that you stole!” I tell him while slowly stepping closer.
“I have no idea of what you are talking about! Please just take the money and go!” he whimpers. Like he took a terror-flavored cough drop, fear coats his voice. “Who are you? What do you want?”
I stare lasers into his eyes. “Who am I?” I pause for dramatic effect. Here it comes. “I am Gods’ eyes!” I say with an intense look on my face.
The priest has heard enough and he makes a dash for the door. Suddenly I remember the gun in my waistband. I reach for it, wrap my fingers around the grip and pull it out. I point the gun at him and he freezes.
“You’re not going anywhere Father. I’m sure the police will be interested in the changes you made to the books.” He stares at me.
“Don’t kill me! Please! Just tell me what you want?” he pleads with desperation oozing out of his pores.
“You deserve worse, but all I want is for you to pay for your crimes!”
“What crimes? I have not committed any crimes! Please, I’m a priest!” He is now visibly trembling. As I watch, a wet stain spreads from his crotch. The bastard pissed himself in fear.
“I’m sick of your lies! You’re pathetic and you’re finished!” I say as I turn towards the phone hanging on the wall. Gun in my right hand, pointed at Father, I reach towards the phone with my left. My attention was fully on the phone. That is all he needed.
What went through Father Romanskis’ head at that moment, I will never know. I didn’t think he had it in him. I’m sure he thought he could subdue me and call the police. With the gun pointed at him and the way I was talking I’m sure he thought I was going to shoot him. He turned out to be right. He made a decision, one that brought on his own demise. Driven by fear, Father Romanski grabbed the heavy wine decanter that sat on the table next to him, took a step towards me and swung with all his priestly might, which isn’t much. At the last second I sensed him coming. I turned away from the phone and that probably saved me. The decanter came down like a crystal comet and clipped me on the right side of my head, just above the ear. In a reflexive response my hands clenched into fists. My finger involuntarily squeezes the trigger. The gun, still pointed at Father Romanski, goes off with a deafening roar. I see the following scene in slow motion: smoke rising in wisps from the barrel, the bullet slicing its way through the air towards Father Romanskis face, the bullet drilling its way into Father Romanskis skull right above his left eyebrow, blood and tiny fragments of skull, along with grayish chunks of brain blossom from the back of his head, the gore splashes onto a crucifix that hangs behind him. The blood and meat pieces dripping and sliding down Jesus’ crucified body. Looking similar to what Jesus must have looked like directly after his tortures, before his friends cleaned his corpse.
What have I done!?!? He’s dead. I’ve killed a fucking priest. It was not supposed to go like this. I didn’t want to kill him, just get him arrested. Horror blankets my mind. My legs grow weak. My grip on the gun slackens. No. Please no. This can’t be happening. I have killed another human being. Tears begin to well in my eyes. I drop to my knees. The gun slips out of my hand and clatters to the floor. My mind is a jumble of thoughts. No. No. No. Can’t be. No. My eyes look upon the gore-crusted crucifix. I have seriously fucked up. My mind is at its breaking point when suddenly the crucifix begins to faintly glow with that familiar light. The glowing grows stronger and the cross begins to pulse. A sense of calm envelops my being. The eye of the storm has found me. The cross pulses.
Fwoomp. “YOU HAVE DONE NO WRONG!” the voice tells me.
Gone is the confusion and fear that I felt the first time I heard his voice.
Fwoomp. “YOU HAVE DONE WELL. HIS TIME WAS HERE. YOU HAVE REMOVED A STAIN FROM MY HOUSE.”
The words bring intense joy to my heart. With each pulse an invigorating wave of pleasure blasts through my soul.
Fwoomp. “HIDE THE SIGNS OF YOUR PASSING. SO YOU MAY CONTINUE TO DO MY WORK.”
Tears flow down my face. Not the earlier tears of guilt and shame. These are tears of joy. For never have I felt more loved than at that moment. The glowing and pulsing of the crucifix slowly stops.
My resolve strengthened, I pick up the gun, stand up and replace it in my waistband. I grab a towel from next to the sink and begin to clean the room. I wipe the brain pieces off the crucifix. The decanter that hit me lays unbroken on the floor. I pick it up, wipe the blood off its base and replace on the countertop. I clean all the blood I find. A convenient bottle of disinfectant under the sink makes my job easier. After a few minutes I survey my work. Looks better than before. I wiped my prints off of everything that Father and I touched. Father Romanskis cooling corpse lies on the floor at my feet. His destroyed face hidden inside a black trash bag I found. Its one of those fancy new trash bags with a pull cord to tighten it closed instead of tying it. The cord is tight around Fathers’ neck, keeping the bloody seepage inside the bag. What to do with the body? I look out the window into the churchyard. The perfect hiding place catches my eye. It’s a 4-foot high pile of compost in the far corner of the churchyard/garden. The compost will not be used until sometime in the spring. Perfect. I open the door leading into the yard and peer out. No one can be seen. The late Father and I were the last ones in the church and apparently the thick stone walls of the rectory were enough to muffle the gunshot, otherwise there would have been police or at least some curious people nosing around. I look at the time. 12:47AM, just under an hour since I got here. It felt like days.
I prop the door open with the doorstop and begin dragging Fathers’ considerable bulk towards the door. The church is not exactly up to date technology wise, so thankfully there are no cameras anywhere on church property. If there were cameras what they would have seen is this: A man, struggling to pull a body down a short flight of stairs. The man pulls the body by its feet. As he drags the corpse down the five stairs, the back of the corpses head smacks each step on the way down. Each impact makes a sound like a fist hitting a thick juicy raw steak. The man doing the pulling is obviously having a difficult time. Finally the corpse is dragged next to the compost pile. The man than grabs the shovel next to the pile and begins to move the compost to the side. Once the entire pile is transferred a few feet to the left of its original spot and the man is covered in sweat despite the cold air, he drags the corpse to the spot of the original pile. The man walks back in to the rectory and quickly returns with a few bloody towels in his hands. The man digs a hole next to the corpse and tosses the towels in. He than begins to undress the corpse, presumably to speed decomposition. Once the corpse is naked, its flesh exposed to the wind, the man tosses the clothes into the hole. The man refills the hole and begins to cover the corpse with compost. After a few minutes nothing out of the ordinary can be seen, just a big pile of compost and one tired man.
My back aches from all the digging and shoveling and from hauling that fat fuck to his resting place. His body should rot quickly in the moist, clammy conditions of the compost heap. His putrefying flesh will slough off the bone and slowly liquefy, providing nutrients and vitamins to the Earth. Finally doing some good in death, wherein he failed to do any in life. When they eventually find the bones of the missing priest, the police will scratch their heads and ponder this strange discovery. It is no concern of mine. I will be immune to their wrath, shielded by power they will never comprehend. I lock up the church with Fathers’ keys to make things seem as normal as possible, tuck the keys in my jacket pocket and casually stroll away from the church towards home. I am elated, on Cloud 9. No. I’m on Cloud Motherfucking 20. I can feel His love down to my bones. Like my soul is vibrating. I smile and continue walking.
Wind travels through the leafless trees. Branches scraping against each other creating scrabbling sounds like rats scurrying across a tin roof. Except for these sounds, the churchyard is quite, but down on the ground, creatures stir. Thousands of insects climb, scrape, hop and fly out of their hiding places. The giant creature that disturbed their domain has left. In its place nothing is left but an enticing, delicious aroma. Food is to be found. A myriad of insects approach a pile of rotting vegetation. It looms above them, a mountain. They are not deterred, for they sense that treasure lies within. Beetles, roaches and other small insects with names no normal person knows, begin to burrow into the leaves. Following whatever sensory organs they possess, they tunnel towards the delicious smell. One roach breaks through a layer of mush, the first to reach the prize. Mountain ranges of flesh stretch before the cockroach in both directions. Its simple mind is not capable of complex emotions, but if described, the feeling the roach now feels would be similar to human joy. Joy for this bountiful feast that has been found, enough food for him and for his thousands of brothers and sisters. A sense of something quite like pride fills the roach. Pride, because in his instinct driven brain, he knows that even should he fall, like so many before him, his siblings will continue the existence of his species. Now he can eat and grow strong from the meat and continue the lineage that started millions of years before his birth.
I enter my apartment and realize that I am hungry. Starving, it feels like. I hang up my jacket, kick my shoes into the corner and go to the kitchen. I open the fridge and examine the contents. There is a whole roasted chicken, minus one of its legs, sitting inside. I grab it and sit down on the couch. The chicken in my lap, I tear off the remaining leg and begin to eat.
There is something barbaric about eating a whole roasted chicken. Bacon, ham, burgers, steaks, they bear no resemblance to the animal of its origin. Your mind distanced from the cute baby cow that is now your veal parmesan, because it doesn’t look like a cute baby cow. It looks like a tasty, breaded, sauce and cheese covered hunk of goodness. A whole roasted chicken on the other hand is a different story. It doesn’t take much imagination to picture it walking around and clucking. Basically it is just a gutted, decapitated, cooked carcass. Using our teeth to rip the cooked muscle from the bone. Veins visible. Milky white cartilage exposed. Liquefied fat seeping from the flesh. Savagely devouring the meat of an inferior species, fucking delicious, but simultaneously barbaric. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me.
No sirens wake my slumber. No police kick in my door. Guilt does not wrack me. I sleep. A sleep so deep, I’m like some ancient bound demon, only the vast power and effort of skilled sorcerers sufficient enough to wake me. But no sorcerers compelled me to rise. My awakening occurs normally. I rub my eyes and stretch my back. My spine snap-crackle-pops like a bowl of Rice Krispies. My neck feels stiffer than high school morning wood. I fell asleep on the couch. A greasy bucket of chicken bones lies on its side on the floor. The bones are scattered across the rug, creating almost geometric shapes. I feel great. I killed a man and I feel great. I should be feeling guilty. I should be feeling horrible. No. I really shouldn’t. The most important being in the universe has approved of my actions. That is all I need. My petty human emotions are no longer my concern. Despite the way I feel inside, my body feels dirty, sweaty and gritty from my work in the churchyard.
By the time I shower and eat it is already almost 11:00AM. I stretch out on the couch and turn on the television. It is still set on the news channel. I watch and listen for anything about a missing priest, not really expecting anything. My non-fears are true. No missing priest is reported. I am safe. Safe and the happiest I have ever been in my life. Who could have imagined I was so wrong. Firm in my belief that there is no God. So many others live like I have, in ignorance and in steadfast refusal of a higher power. I have been given a chance to believe and I do believe. I believe it fully. I may still wonder why? Why me? Why like this? It is not my place to ponder the reasons. They are beyond the comprehension of mortal minds. The rightness of it all is undeniable. It is a part of me, like some strange symbiotic creature. It’s tentacles tapped into my nervous system and organs. If it is removed I will die. I truly feel like this. After what I have felt I can never go back to the way I lived before. Lost in a fog of lethargy. Doing just enough to live. Never striving for more. Opening my soul just enough to get by. No more, those days are behind me. My life is now illuminated, heavy with worth and like a junkie, I am hooked for life.
The exploration of my newfound faith reminds me of a something one of my bum friends from around Madison Square Garden once told me, something that stuck with me. His name is Red. He works around the Garden doing odd jobs. Delivering newspapers to all the little stores in Penn Station, cleaning up a little, basic shit. His skin is weathered like tough leather. A Martian landscape of craters and furrows covers his ruddy face. He sleeps where he can and all his money goes on booze. In the few years I’ve known him, I have never seen the man eat. Inside he is a good guy. Alcohol has gripped his life and brought him down, but he still goes on. At the bottom and still surviving.
So it was a regular day. I can’t remember the time of year or the exact date, but it was not too long ago. I was loitering next to the newsstand in front of the 7th Ave. Penn Station entrance. I was on break and like I always do, I gave Red a few cigarettes and some change. We stood there talking about life and woman and bullshit. I went to the newsstand to get some peanut butter cups, Red talking the whole time. He loved to talk. I waited on line, not really hearing what Red was saying, but it didn’t stop him. I paid for my cups and walked back to stand next to Red. He was already spitting knowledge for a while, but I only caught the end. And the words that I heard were pure fucking poetry.
“Fuck man we all just pieces of shit in the toilet bowl of Life. Floating around, living our lives, the waters of Life slowly deteriorating our shitty bodies. Some pieces of shit get flushed down without a fight. Other pieces shit refuse to be flushed down. They get sucked to the bottom and just pop back up. Others try to be the biggest nastiest pieces of shit they can be, so they can leave a brown streak on the bowl of Life. That lasting mark, but you know what? No matter how big of a stain you leave behind, eventually, after enough flushes, that stain is gonna get washed away.” Did I not say the man is a poet?
His words hold even deeper meaning now. I refuse to be a piece of shit that goes down without a fight. That is who I was. Right now I feel like the nastiest fudge cigar to ever float in Life’s water. I have been shown my legacy, my shit stain on Life. I do not want to be known as just a regular guy, who lived a regular life. My actions will be proof that lives can be changed. That God is here looking out for us. And even though my actions will not be remembered forever and my memory will fade, I am content that I still did some good and that He is gonna be there in the end. To think I thought was crazy? Still stretched out on the couch, my hands behind my head, my face gives birth to huge smile. I keep smiling and shake my head at the absurdity of my earlier fears.
What next? If I were a rapist where would I go? I always read in the paper about joggers getting attacked in Central Park. It’s as good a place as any. Decision made I get ready to leave. While slipping into my jacket I feel two bulges, the gun in my left pocket and the something in my right pocket. My fingers probe the womb of fabric. My fingertips brush against something metallic, the church keys. I should have buried them with the clothes. I have to get rid of them. I go outside and crouch next to the sewer grate in front of my building. I give the keys a good jingle and toss them inside. Forever may they dwell in shit. Feeling better I stroll to the subway.
The train. People. Faces. It is a blur. I get off on 86th Street and approach the gateway to Central Park. Central Park sits in the middle of Manhattan like some plantlike nerd in the schoolyard, surrounded by monolithic concrete bullies. Looming on all sides casting their shadows upon the urban oasis. I step through the entrance arch and an ocean of trees crashes against the shores of my eyes. I blink against their assault. My eyes stay closed as I think about the soon-to-come holy rush. I breathe in the crisp park air, exhale loudly, and listen to the tree ocean sounds. I open my eyes, step forward and immerse myself in the waves of branches.
Couples walk down the paths together. Emotionally entwined. The love between them can almost be seen around their auras like tentacles, the love-Kraken grabbing two ships, and once within its suckered grip, smashing them together. Powerful, but nothing like the love from above that I receive. Dog barks can be heard in the distance, laughter of children ghosts through the trees. It is still early, the whole scene to picturesque for criminals. Only later, when the night vomits forth its ebon innards and shadows clutch the nooks and crannies of the city, do they show themselves. The sun is too illuminating, too revealing. It allows others to see your face and to see your diseased soul. To the criminals the night is a prostitute. It gives you a few hours of pleasure, embraces you indiscriminately, allows you to feel like more than you are. But the night doesn’t hide you from God. I’m here to make sure of that.
I spend a few hours walking around, truly enjoying the park until black ink spills across the sky. The sun descends to cower behind the Earth. The wings of my wrath unfurl. I take flight and scan the park for likely prey. A group of teenagers occupies two benches; they are loud and rowdy, immortal in their youth. Empty Colt 45s are strewn across the grass behind them. Brings back memories. I stare at each face as I pass hoping for a dark secret to be revealed. Lucky for them their thoughts stay hidden. I pass them and start to turn down a path to my right. “Fucking weirdo!” A kid in baggy jeans and an Ecko sweatshirt yells at me. Going with their expectations of what an adult would do, I turn back towards them and give them my best angry adult sneer. Naturally it doesn’t faze them.
Deeper into the wooded bowels of the park I go. There are lampposts here but the areas in between them are islands of dark, perfect places for muggers. I visit each island along the path but find no lurking threats. Disappointed, I sulk deeper into the park.
If this were the 80s I would have been assaulted at least twice by now. The park is too safe. The scum has abandoned the area for easier pickins’. I spend another hour hunting to no avail. I spot a gazebo in the distane and deide to make my way over to it. I reach the gazebo and climb a flight of stairs leading up to it. Inside, on one of the benches, sits a pile of rags surrounded by shopping bags. Stepping inside the gazebo the light from the lamps below reveals the rag pile to be a living creature, a homeless woman. There is only one bench under the gazebo and she is on it. I walk up to her and sit on the edge of the bench. A smell like unwashed genitals soaked in stale urine, with a spattering of shit and a hint of vomit, seeps into my nostrils.
Her filthy face turns to look at me. A smile gashes her faces revealing black and brown teeth, reminding me of rotten tree stumps.. The stench of disease is released from the prison of her mouth.
“You lookz disappointed about something.” She says.
I ignore her and just stare at the trees, lost in thought.
“The birds, the bees, the trees even youz and meez, Weez all got a purpose. No need to beez so downs. The man upstairs got a planz for us all. Mmmhmmm. Hallelujah. Amen.”
Her words sprinkle the air and settle on my mind. She is right. He does have a plan. Nothing happened tonight but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be like this every night. I need the rush again. It is almost like going through withdrawal. My bones ache, I feel like shit. I feel a deep yearning for the euphoria granted by doing God’s work. The bumlady has a point though.
I reach for my wallet, retrieve $20 and give it to my stinky new friend. Her eyes light up like lamps in the dark. I can see her calculating what the money can buy her. Shit-rot odor wafts from her mouth.
“Thank youz childz! May the lordz bless youz generous heart!” she says, with true feeling. I can’t help smiling.
“He already has.” I tell her as I walk down the stairs.
Tonight has been a bust. Maybe tomm-white hot pain lances my brain, like being shot in the back of the head with a nail gun. A primal scream of anguish rips its way out of my throat. I clutch my head trying to stop the pain. If there were anyone nearby they would have heard my teeth grinding, like a cokehead on a 3-day binge. My vision is pure white and a loud buzzing sound fills my ears. After what seems like days, the pain recedes and my vision clears. I find myself lying at the bottom of the stairs leading to the gazebo. I feel weak and wasted. My ears are still slightly buzzing. As the buzzing fades I hear
“can get an ambulance if youz needz one! Are youz ok?”
I prop myself up on my elbow and look up at the gazebo. In see the silhouette of the homeless woman standing at the top of the stairs. The light from the streetlights behind her makes it look like a golden halo surrounds her head, my filthy homeless angel. Despite the way I feel a small chuckle bubbles forth from my voice box. I shakily get up, groaning the whole time. I wave to the woman
“ I’m fine. I’m fine. See, all better, just tripped going down the stairs.
“Youz no trip! I seenz what happened to youz! Youz got the devil in youz is what it is!”
Her words disturb me. I quickly turn around and walk towards the park exit. The shouts of the bum lady follow me down the path. “The devil is in youz boy!!! The devil!!”
I don’t know what just happened. Almost like when I first heard His voice, except without the actual voice. I feel myself sweating despite the cool temperature. I try to grasp what occurred. The only explanation I can think of is that communicating with God is just too much for the human mind to handle, his holy force causing my brain to short circuit. Satisfied with my conclusion I enter the train station. Within minutes I have pushed the incident to the catacomb vaults of my mind and the addict like longing for justice, done His way, permeates my being.
I am sitting in the train, giving everyone the eye. Hoping. Really hoping that some heinous sin will be revealed to me. No such luck. The train rumbles into the Times Square station. I scan the crowds standing on the platform. One person in particular catches my attention. The person zooms by me in a second, but it is enough for me to catch a glimpse of his face. Thick glasses, thinning hair, greasy-weasel look. The pervert rapist! I can’t believe my luck.
I stand up and wait by the doors, eager for the train to stop. The doors slide open and I quickly step out onto the platform. The pervert is somewhere to the left of me, at the end of the platform. I push my way through the huge crowds, like a salmon swimming upstream. I can see the back of the creep’s head some distance in front of me. Another train pulls in on the opposite side and disgorges a horde of people. The mass of flesh blocks my view but at the last second I see my target walking up the stairs. I bulldoze my way through the crowd, reach the stairs and take them two at a time.
The Times Square station is labyrinthine in its construction. Tunnels, walkways, stairs and dozens of exits are scattered everywhere. He could be anywhere but luckily, 20 feet away, I see the perv just walking through the turnstile, towards freedom. “Hey! You in the glasses! At the turnstile!” I shout. He turns around in response to my shouts. No recognition can be seen on his face. “Hey! Wait!” The bastard turns around and heads to the streets above. I run the rest of the way, practically fly up the stairs and burst out onto the streets. I frantically look around, to the right, nothing. To the left, yes! I see him heading towards a cab. He gets inside and the cab starts to pull away. I make it just in time to slap my hand against the trunk and than it is gone. Lost in the constant traffic, absorbed into the ocean of yellow cabs.
Damn, so close. I was so fucking close. The building adrenaline and anticipation suddenly vacate my body, like tenants fleeing a cheap, crumbling, roach infested ghetto apartment. I just stand there in Times Square, staring in the direction the cab went. Once again watching the people flow around me, as if I don’t even exist, a ghost in a city full of the walking dead.
Back home. I have just rolled myself a monster blunt of purple haze. Sprawled out on the couch, slowly puffing away, I’m trying to ignore the dull aching in the back of my head. I do drugs for my own selfish reasons. Ooh look at me, I am trying to escape the harsh realities of my existence. Fuck that shit. I like to get high, plain and simple. I never was too fond of drinking. Don’t get me wrong, I like to get shit-faced drunk every now and then but I’m not like Mr.American-Man, after a hard day of work I come home and crack open a few Budwiesers and watch the game. After a hard day of work I like to come home crack open a White Owl or Dutchmaster cigar, fill the fucker up with primo bud and get lost in the herbal goodness of God’s magical sacred plant.
I am now sufficiently stoned enough to not feel the aching pain, a remnant of my earlier episode. My eyes are bloodshot and all Chino looking. The T.V. is on but I’m not really watching. That damn rapist. I’ll get him eventually. I sigh in resignation and pop in a CD by the band Sigh. The album is called Imaginary Sonicscapes. Picture a cross between The Doors and black metal. Somehow it works. The albums harsh psychedelic tunes enter my ear canal and have a tripped out party in my brain.
On the T.V. screen a televangelist raves about God and than smacks a crippled old lady on the forehead with his palm. “Be healed sista!” he screams and the woman drops to the floor. Be healed. A smile crests my face and The Sandman sneaks up on me and sprinkles his mystic dust over my head. I drift off into oblivion. Be healed . . .
I am standing in an endless field of poppy. The sun shines majestically.. A gentle singing, more like someone humming a tune that they forgot the lyrics to, can be heard coming from all directions. I do not recognize the song, but it seems familiar. It conjures feelings of being held by my mother, the flowery scent of her perfume, fishing trips with my dad, the comfort of the womb, laughter with friends. I begin to walk through the poppy field. Before I get further than two feet, millions of butterflies erupt from amidst the poppy, butterflies of unheard of colors and size, some as big as a kite. I stare in wonder. The millions of pairs of wings make a sound like silk against a baby’s ass, times one million. All the while the soothing humming permeates me. I feel like I am floating or like I just shot up some uncut heroin, pretty appropriate considering I am in a field of poppies. Suddenly I hear the giant Barry White voice, as if it is coming from within me and everywhere else at once. “A GREAT TRIAL AWAITS YOU! TRUE EVIL WILL BE REVEALED AND YOUR TIME IS LIMITED! SOON WE SHALL BE TOGETHER IN MY KINGDOM!” Before the words even soak into my brain-sponge, the millions of butterflies all drop dead to the ground. The entire endless field of poppies begins to die. They all turn black and shrivel. The beautiful humming is no longer present. In a matter of seconds the entire place is a black, cracked wasteland. The ground rumbles and the splits open in front me, revealing a yawning chasm of utter darkness. I can feel misery and despair flowing out of the void. Before I can back away, blinding pain travels through my synapses, frying organic brain circuits. I lose my footing and I fall into the Pit. Sulfuric winds buffet my falling body and I scream, my mouth open so much that my jaw is almost unhinged. Screaming, falling, I descend into the ebon.
I awake covered in sweat; a brain goblin playing blast beat drums in my skull. A trial awaits me? Than what the fuck have I been going through these past few days? Regardless I am ready. I have undergone a lycanthrope-like transformation, from average man to raging slavering beast of religious fervor, except no silver bullets will stop me.
Humming Cannibal Corpse’s “The Cryptic Stench”, I shimmy over to the deli. The deli is called God Bless, before 9/11 the deli was named something normal, I can’t remember what, New Deli or some shit. Soon after the attacks one of the employees got arrested in connection to Al-quada. Apparently he was sending money to support them and soon after that they changed the name of the store to God Bless, a slap in America’s face. Ever since then I never liked the place, but convenience still brings me there.
The arabs that work here are grimy, shady looking. Every time I step into the store they narrow their eyes, give me dirty looks and talk amongst themselves. Maybe I am just being paranoid, but I know they are talking shit about me. All the times I’ve been trashed and caused a scene in the store probably has something to do with it. That’s why I never get a sandwich or any other type of food that has to be handled by the scumbags.
I open the fridge in the back of the store and grab a quart of milk, nothing like a cold glass of bovine lactation to—FIRE! WHITE PAIN! SPEAR THRUSTS THROUGH MY THOUGHT ORGAN!
I squint at the white fluorescent lights that blast down at my face. Where the fuck am I? Something wet soaks my pants and back. I roll my head to the right, causing a wave of agony to crash against the insides of my skull, and see my fist crushing a now empty carton of milk. Another seizure, brainmelt or whatever you want to call it. This is not good. I shakily get up, the pain just bearable enough for me to have some motor function. Harsh words in a foreign tongue gallop down my ear canal. I squint and see a rectangle of light not too far away. The exit. I stumble drunkenly forward when suddenly-
A small boy is riding a bike, his older brother is riding up ahead shouting a profane stream of insults at him. The younger boy is pedaling furiously desperate to beat his brother in this meaningless childhood race, but to boy it might as well be the Tour de France. The older brother reaches the tree they designated as the finish line, skids to a halt and begins to shout “Yes! You know it! I am the almighty champion! And you are a piece of shit loser! Hahaha!” The younger boy finally catches up to the finish line, stops in front of his brother and quickly gets off the bike, letting it fall against the ground.
Pure anger contorts the younger brothers face. ”Shut up you jerk! Why do you always have to pick on me!”
“Fuck you, you little pussy! What are you gonna do about it?” He takes two steps back, both arms spread in an invitation of brotherly battle.
The younger brother snarls and rushes at his brother. He collides into his midsection with some force. Enough to push his brother back a few feet, to the edge of the road and down the decline that leads to a ditch. The older boy only tumbles a few feet and lands with a quick cry of pain.
The younger brother slowly steps towards the decline. He hears a low moaning coming from the ditch. He reaches the edge and glances down.
His eyes pop in horror as he sees his sibling taking his last breath with a huge tree branch from a felled tree piercing his chest, nibblets of gore hanging off of its jagged tip.
The entire scenario flashed through my mind in seconds. That kid looked kind of familiar. The deli stockboy! I’m getting their memories? Now? Fire burns through my spine and erupts with molten might, disintegrating brain matter.
A woman, quite attractive with an exotic Middle-Eastern look, is cowering in the corner of a kitchen. Tears race down her face only to plunge off her chin. He lips quiver like plump caterpillars. In between sobs she pleads. “Please! Please! Don’t do this! Nothing happened! I was just talking with him! Please! Don’t do this! You’re crazy!”
The woman’s husband stands near the stove. His brow is a mass of wrinkles, his eyes hot coals of hatred. In his left hand he clutches a big kitchen knife, which he holds suspended over an open flame on the stove. The knife is already beginning to turn red with heat.
“I’m crazy?!? You’re the one who fucked someone else and ruined our marriage! You fucking whore! “ The knife is now glowing red hot. The husband begins to advance on his terrified wife. “We’ll see who wants to fuck you when your covered is scars!”
His wife starts to get up but is brutally knocked back onto her ass when the meaty fist of her husband collides with her face. Curled up on the floor, she is now just a mass of quivering flesh. Her hands feebly clutch at her rapidly swelling eye. “Please! I’m sorry!” she begs.
The husband is disturbingly silent as he towers over what he considers to be his property. The knife glows in his hand. Using one of his knees and his free hand, he forces her legs spread. He takes the scalding knife and begins to press it flat against the inside of her thigh. A sizzling sound accompanied by the sickeningly pork-like smell of burning human flesh fills the kitchen, instantly followed by a piercing scream of agony. He lifts the knife, tiny pieces of skin melted onto the blade, revealing a deeply burned patch of skin in the shape of the knife blade. He continues and brands her thigh again. She passes out from the pain after the third burn
Her husband now sits on a chair, elbow on kitchen table, a cigarette dangling from his fingers. He stares blankly at the form at his feet.
His wife is unconsciously sprawled on the floor, her skirt has been ripped off. Her nude legs are spread open. Over a dozen scars create a patchwork of melted skin on both her inner thighs.
That was the fucking guy that works the register! I have only traveled 5 steps since I got up off the floor. I keep blindly moving forward and crash into a rack of potato chips. Bags tumble onto the floor only to be crushed beneath my feet, as I keep moving. Curses are being flung at my back by the irate storeowners; if they were rocks I’d have been stoned to death by now. Directly in front of me I can hear cars driving and people walking by. It’s the door. I take a step and—microscopic nuclear bombs tear apart my brain, atom by atom.
An Arabic man, his hair peppered with ivory, sits on a rickety porch lost in thought. Goats roam around an enclosed pen next to the house. A hot wind blows from the sandy hills in the distance. This is the man’s home country.
The sound of an approaching engine draws the man out of his reverie. A smile forms on his face. A beat-up rusty beige van appears down the road. It reaches the house and stops in front. Two men, with a slightly criminal look about them, step out of the van. One of them wears fashionable sunglasses, he walks onto the porch. “Where is she?”
The older man gets up from the chair and opens the door to the small house. He gestures towards the opening with his hand. “Last room in the back.”
“She died when?” the other man asks.
“Just this morning. She had brain cancer, struggled with it for a long time. I’m very sad to see her go.”
“Isn’t that sweet.” Says the one with the sunglasses as he heads through the door. “Get in here and help me you lazy bastard!” The other man abandons his spot near the van and quickly follows into the house.
A minute later they both return carrying the body of a woman. They did not bother to cover her corpse. She looks to be in her late thirties. The men reach the van and carelessly toss her body into the back of the van, already left open in preparation.
The man with the shades then walks back to the older man, who is patiently waiting on the porch. He hands him a thick envelope. “Here you go. Enjoy.” He walks back to the van, goes into the driver’s side and starts the engine. Right as the van starts to pull away the man in the passenger seat sticks his head out the window and shouts at the man on the porch. “If you get anymore call us!” The van speeds off.
The older man opens the envelope and counts the money inside. He smiles again and walks back into the house closing the door behind him. He has just sold his sister’s corpse to black market organ dealers. For the equivalent of $250.
Oh man, that’s the old grandpa dude with the white hair that just sits around the store all day. These guys must pay for what they did. I am in no state to do anything about it now though. Pain still pulses through my nervous system. I finally feel a breeze of fresh air and I stumble through the threshold, out onto the street. The sun is massive fire orb in the sky, sending blinding light to obstruct my escape from the deli of horrors. I can just barely make out my surroundings. I start to walk in the direction I am heading when once again, a painbolt flashes from the clouds and rocks me to the floor.
A group of people stands around me, talking and staring. I’m on the ground, which appears to be a favorite spot of mine lately, and I catch bits and pieces of conversation.
“Is he ok? “
“Don’t worry I called an ambulance.”
“Is he on drugs?”
I stare at their faces, tears of pain blurring my vision. To my horror I am assaulted by a constant flow of visions. Visions of all the sins these people committed. They play through my brain like a sped up DVD, scene after scene. It is too much to bear. It feels like I am being sucked into a vortex when, thankfully, darkness takes me.
An antiseptic smell greets my awakened olfactory receptors. It is the stench of healing or the stench of a house of healing, should I say. Tubes are connected to my arms. Beeping sounds come from a machine off to the side. The room has a sterile feel to it, all white lights and crisp air, like Darth Vader’s hyperbaric chamber. My hand right hand touches something small and rectangular with a wire protruding from one end, the nurse call button. I give it a press and wait for the nurse to arrive. I begin to fantasize about smoking hot nurses willing to pleasure me sexually because they feel bad for me. I picture long legs, a fat ass and tits bursting from a tight white shirt. My fantasy is disrupted by a short, fat man in hospital clothes as he bustles into my room.
A frown forms on my face. “I called for a nurse.”
“Yes, I know. That is why I am here.” He says as he picks up the clipboard hanging at the front of the bed. He begins to read the information.
“But where is the beautiful nurse with the tight miniskirt?” Disappointment is clearly evident in my voice.
He chuckles deeply. ”Sorry to disappoint you sir, but I am the nurse assigned to this room. Now what can I do for you?”
I sigh and rub my eyes. “Well is there anything wrong with me? Last thing I remember is collapsing in front of the deli, than nothing. How long have I been here? Which is hospital is this?”
The man looks thoughtful. “You are in Woodhall Hospital. You came in at 11AM yesterday and it is now 1PM of the next day. We have conducted a series of tests.”
“Well your toxology test came back clear except for marijuana. All the MIR and CAT scans we performed show your mind to be perfectly normal. Quite frankly there is no medical reason for your collapse. Have you been working hard? Lots of stress maybe?” He taps a pen against the clipboard. The sound annoys me.
“No I felt a little sick a few days ago and I took a few days off from work. Other than it everything is fine.” Why is this happening? Haven’t I done as you asked, God? The whole time I avoid the nurses’ eyes, fearing another vision.
“Well we have you scheduled for an appointment with Dr. Sakros, the psychologist, at 3PM. Once you speak with her and she clears you, you are free to return home.”
“Ok, thanks.” Great a freaking shrink.
The nurse turns around and heads out the room. His bulk momentarily stops in the doorway, blocking the view of the hall. “I will send someone to escort you to Dr.Sakros’s office when it is time for your appointment.” He disappears into the bowels of the hospital.
A psychologist. In Woodhall Hospital. Not exactly the best medical institution in this city, probably not the best psychologists too. If I tell her what has been happening to me she is going to want to put me in the nuthouse. No thanks. I’m not gonna be bouncing off the walls of some padded room in Bellevue. Not if I can help it. I will have to play this very carefully; after all, I still have a mission to complete.
Luckily I have the room all to myself. I would have hated to share with some soon to be corpse. Their death vibes would not do me any good right now. I pull out the IV tubes and get up too stretch my legs. Still feeling a little woozy, I shuffle around the room until I find myself standing by the window. I open it enough for a breeze to cool my face and my thoughts. My head feels great, not even a hint of a shade of the brain tremors I had experienced. Like they never even happened. Except they did, otherwise I wouldn’t be in this shitty 3rd rate hospital.
I have been in this hospital once before. I must have been 11 or 12 years old. My friends and I were playing baseball in McCarren Park. My friend’s father and I were both in the outfield. Glove on and all eager to make a catch, I was intensely focused on the batter. He swung, connected and the ball made its way in my direction. This is it I thought to myself, my moment in the spotlight. I ran to intercept the ball, which was on the downside of its arc. Zeroed in on the ball, confident that I would catch it, I jumped with arm outstretched and collided my face into my friend’s fathers’ forehead. I was knocked down to the ground, dazed and confused. Salty plasma filled my mouth. I ran my tongue across my upper lift and felt a large gash. Weird part was that I wasn’t in pain. My friend’s father had a nice set of teeth marks on his forehead, but fine otherwise. I washed my mouth out at the drinking fountain. An ambulance was already parked near the field. During the summers they are stationed in the park in case any rambunctious youths injure themselves. I lived only 8 blocks away from the park. I could have walked home and told my parents, but in my youthful ignorance I instead chose to go to the ambulance. The paramedics cleaned my split lip and took me to my first experience with a hospital.
My parents were notified and my arduous wait began. My split lip was not an emergency so into the waiting tank I was released. There I was, gauze stuffed into my mouth, sitting amongst dozens and dozens of strangers. They coughed, hacked, and looked like death. I wanted my parents. The comfort they would provide. Instead I had the dingy walls of the waiting area, which at one point may have been off-white, but now were a sickly yellowish-gray color. The cheap fluorescent lights emitted a hypnotizing buzzing sound. Everyone sat around lost in daze, lobotomized. The lights did not illuminate the room; rather they gloominated and made the room appear danker and more filthy. I regretted getting into that ambulance.
All the strange people creeped me out. Now I am not a racist, but being 11 years old and raised in a white Polish neighborhood, I had very little, if any, experience dealing with other races. Most of the people waiting to be treated were African-Americans or Hispanics. I was scared and felt alone. After what felt like days of endless waiting, a purgatory for the sick, my mother arrived on scene. She stormed in frantically looking for me. We hugged and I felt a little better. After a few more hours I was called in to see the doctor, the incompetent bastard. He seemed disinterested with my whole situation. He asked a few questions and stitched my lip up. He fucked it up. His crappy work left a little bulge on the inside of my lip.
I was never so happy to return home as I was that night., but the wretched experience did not stop there. The lovely ambulance ride that I took was not free. My father received a bill for $400 and change. He chewed my ear off.
What did I learn from the whole thing? Don’t take an ambulance unless I am dying or seriously hurt, to the point where I can’t make it home under my own power. Woodhall Hospital, I have not missed you.
I return to my bed and try to get some sleep before my meeting with the shrink. I adjust the automatic bed until I feel comfortable and close my eyes, thoughts of God and sinners swirling in my mind.