Tag Archives: Kim Stanley

Unexpected Clinical Outcomes.

 

Chapter 30 / 2009

Unexpected Clinical Outcomes.

After the Nurse Recruiter at St. Vincent Medical Center took responsibility for offering me a job which did not exist, I drew the curtains, muted the phone and got under the white clouds of my featherbed. 

I slept for many days.  It is possible I slept for a week or two.  I do not know.

Sunset stayed off the shelf in the kitchen, her green eyes staring at me, asking me to brush her hair, to throw her favorite crinkle ball around, to feed her and empty her litter box.  

If the breath of the City of the Angels got too hot, I put on my boxers and wife beater and lay on my bathroom tiles.

The jaws of my apartment pushed me out early one evening, my cowboy boots walking me to Trader Joe’s for tofu and rice.

Despite this exertion, my body ached terribly from the lack of exercise, my eyes were dry, the absence of the perfect light causing me to squint as I looked around for guidance.  My skin craved the sound of voices.  On a Friday morning, my Malibu drove me to the circle of my senior bros, where my throat spit out words, for the first time in I don’t know how long, as I told the tale of how my fifty-seventh year began. 

Lucky me, I forgot there were no safety nets in the gay community.

Never having been the gay man who is fastidiously clean, I was surprised to find myself washing the wood floors of my apartment with Murphy Oil Soap upon my return from the circle.  I cleaned the tiles in the bathroom and kitchen with lavender scented dish soap, scrubbing the bathtub and sinks with generic Ajax, vacuuming my Sears carpet with the upholstery nozzle I had affixed to the attachment hose of my disabled vacuum cleaner a year earlier.  

I arranged the magazines, newspapers and books I had not read in neat piles on the shining brown formica surface of my dining room table.

The senior bros must have infected me with some type of housekeeping virus because, in a few hours, my crib was organized and gleaming.

I sat on the couch and drank cool tap water from a green glass as I read the newspapers and magazines.  All of this made me hungry and I was able to eat without my stomach protesting.  

Late one night, lying on freshly washed white cotton sheets, I heard the wail of a fire truck.  Most likely, the fires were still burning in the City of the Angels.

This was when I realized things were moving slowly.  Very Slowly.

This was when I realized that Sunset had stopped watching my every move.

Perhaps, like me, Sunset did not understand how the rooms we lived in had begun to shimmer so brightly.

♦♦

As I do every morning before I head out to work, I had set out on my kitchen countertop eight green glasses, lined up in two horizontal rows of four each.

Lucky man needs to keep his twisted gut hydrated.

I find myself parking in front of a CVS drug store in Eagle Rock, my belly knowing I do not have the scratch to buy the bargain lunch from the neighboring Thai restaurant.

Too bad, I’d like a real meal today.

For the past two weeks, I have been injecting influenza vaccine into the arms of any Joe or Jane who can cough up thirty bucks.  At these New Depression prices, I do not get many takers, outside of the lucky senior citizens whose Medicare covers the fee in toto.

While the fire trucks tore up Beachwood at 3 AM, I had booked myself for five weeks of full-time work administering flu shots at chain drug stores throughout the Los Angeles basin.  I have never met anyone at the outfit I work for, never been interviewed, never been asked for a reference, never submitted a physical or TB clearance.  I followed the mantra of the New Depression, applying online like a good little out of work lucky man, faxing my nursing license to the home office in Kansas City when, after two years of feeding the internet my resume and carefully thought out cover letters, I at last received an e-mail from an employer, telling me I had made the flu shot cut.  

On the night before I am to begin my first shift, I receive my second job related e-mail.  My hours at the flu clinics are cut from eight a day to four.  No explanation as to why.  The 800 call anytime for information or support number works its hold button more fiercely than the space cadet staffing co-ordinator did when I asked for a schedule change to take my birthday off.

New World, new rules.

Passing through the out of sync self-opening glass doors, I enter this particular CVS slowly.  I smile at the security guard, his muscular youth forbidding his dark face to return my shy overture at connection.  His CVS indoctrination forces his deep black eyes to see me as either a potential thief or, if I stood under a harsher light, a thieving drug addict.

Strolling past a towering display of Pepsi One bottles, held aloft in blue plastic crates, I continue on to the clinic, located, like all the others I have worked, next to the public bathrooms.

The RN I am working with circles me cautiously.

The smell of being unlucky can be that strong.

We set up without talking, neither of us listening to the overhead speakers as they abruptly interrupt the static infused soft rock music they spew to announce sale prices of Tylenol and Snapple.  We cover our limping brown metal table with crisp white bunting and set out informational fliers, consent forms and a price list, our languor born not only from the toxic air surrounding the cars and buildings we find ourselves in, but from the knowledge all Angelenos have acquired as the fire days burn themselves out.  The sky’s suddenly acquired opaque heaviness threatens each of us, its weight leaning in on our skin, while our noses and mouths fight against breathing its poison in.  What we imagined our eyes had seen clearly in the early days of the fires is today painted with the brush of ash and destruction.  

“How long have you been a nurse,” the RN asks me.

“Thirty years.”

“This is the first real nursing job I’ve ever had.”

Like the lucky man, she has been on the gig for two weeks. 

The harsh CVS light allows me to see her.  Heavyset, late twenties, baby blues more sparkling than Matt’s, her face round and pretty, her light brown hair cut in a recherché shag, she moves with the come-hither 50s masculinity of Kim Stanley. 

“I’ve had my license for two years.  I figured I’d get a job straight out of school…that’s what they tell you when you take out these monster loans to pay for school.  But nothing…I never got a job.  When my husband got into the A.S. program at The Los Angeles Film School, we moved to Hollywood.  Everyone back in Virginia said I’d get a job out here.  You wouldn’t believe where we live…I can’t even tell you.  The only work I have now is part-time with this…this gentleman on Wilshire Boulevard.  He’s a paraplegic…his mother hired me because I like Diana Krall.”

“The guy in Westwood?  From Craigslist?  He was going to be a cinematographer?”

“You know him?”

I give her the highlights of the tale of the New Depression and me, a once lucky man.

“It’s not a nursing job,” she says.  “I’m a babysitter, a maid, he’s so…it’s awful.”

Our sole customer for the day approaches.

He is seven-years-old, crying at the thought of the tiny needle going into his arm.

How is the lost boy?  Does Mother still keep him tethered to the vent so she can chill in her jammies?

I talk to our customer, his brown eyes wide open as I roll up my sleeve and shoot a half cc of saline into my arm.

“Nothing to it,” I tell the boy.  “If your mom lets you, I’ll give you the syringe to take home with you.”

“They make great water pistols,” the RN says.

“Can I, mom?  Can I?”

“All done,” the RN says.

“When are you going to give me the shot?” the boy asks.

“We already did.  I gave it to you while Jake was talking.”

My colleague’s voice is soft and dreamy, her notes drowning out Fleetwood Mac’s “Gypsy” escaping through the speakers above us with Kim Stanley’s opening monologue from “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

“That’s the closest I’ve come to being a nurse since I left school,” the RN says.  “That gentleman on Wilshire…”

“Gentleman?”

We laugh, a big, deep, cleverest, best joke we have ever heard laugh.

“That guy, that man, whatever, he has the other nurses…all women…he has them get in the shower with him in their bikinis…to bathe him.  He makes them get in bed with him at night…he lays his head in their laps until he falls asleep.  I won’t do it.”

“This must be the New World,” I say.

“The other night, I was cutting up cantaloupe and watermelon for his breakfast and I started crying.  I haven’t eaten fruit…had the money to buy it….”

“You’re coming over for Thanksgiving, you and your husband.  You’re a fifteen minute walk from me.”

The RN leaves at noon to take the bus to her second clinic of the day in Long Beach.

“That’s quite a haul, you want to stay here?  I’ll drive down to Long Beach.”

“No, it’s fine, I’m used to it.  I’ve got a good book to read.”

Not only is she everything you would want your nurse to be, this unlucky lady reads books.

“Have a good trip.  We’ll exchange numbers here tomorrow for Thanksgiving.”

I return home to my third e-mail in two years from an employer.

“Dear Valued Associates:  Due to the unanticipated lack of client response to our clinics nationwide, we are suspending all clinics as of tonight at 11:59 PM.  We thank you for the outstanding contribution you have made to our team and look forward to working with you next flu season.”

Unexpected clinical outcome in the New World, bro.

♦♦

“Don’t take it personally, losing the clinic assignments,” my friend Ann says.  “You were a line item which had to be eliminated.”

Gee, thanks.

If one believes the inciting incident of this tale of the New Depression began two years ago, when the muffler fell out from under my 69 Chevy Malibu on the 101, then surely the shank of this pathetic melodrama has played out, the part where the protagonist holds his breath until life turns the corner and goes the other way.  All I have accomplished in the past two years is to, in the last few slow weeks, take a crack at the unread newspapers and magazines weighing down my dining room table.  

“What are you going to do next?” Ann asks.

Outside of rethinking my friendships, I can sleep under the white clouds of my featherbed from eight at night until ten or eleven in the morning.  I can mute the phone, I can draw the curtains across the windows I look out of.

For months, the light of the City of the Angels has held me in its arms and caressed me, smiling as it took out of me everything I no longer needed.  Today, the sky is clear, the light of the New World reigns.  

I inform Ann I have an errand to run and give her dial tone.  

The breath of the Santa Anas has blown the Los Angeles basin clean.  I can see the Griffith Park Observatory, where, a half-century earlier, James Dean cried over Sal Mineo as he lay dead on the wet concrete steps at dawn.  My friends, the ones who grew me into a man, if not lying underground in heavy wooden boxes, have been flung into the ocean or thrown off of mountain tops by the lonely hands which had clung to their bodies for one last hug, their lips saying a final “I love you.”  The man I clung to has fallen in love with long distance, he sleeps without me in his parents’ garage on the days and nights he has not gone AWOL, after the walls have closed in on him and the air refused to touch his soft skin.  

I look down from the sky to my kitchen counter, its dark plum tiles bordering the light green ones, on which I have placed my green water glasses, their emptiness sitting on a rectangular white linen placemat, its edges embroidered with thick red thread.  

I stare at the deep green glass, its bumpy surface more at home in a Googie styled diner than in my boho chic digs, this new light lets my eyes see each green groove, the light touching the rectangle stitched within the placemat by the thick red thread, this echo showing me where to position my glasses.  I fill the glass with tap water and take long gulps, as if I was Dad attacking a can of brewski.  My eyes look up at the turquoise Fiestaware plates on a shelf lined with once white paper.  I look at the yellow daisy decals on the tall glass which I filled with ice water for Matt’s skinny fiancee, her knocking at my door the inciting incident of her story, the light in our eyes when we discussed our man showing us who we were, the same way the light of the City once showed me the notes my father played years after he died, the light having allowed me to see what was behind the eyes of the Angels, its clarity illuminated the depth of the sound stage this City is for me.

I stare at the intricacy of the green glass until I am still inside, until I can see who I am.

I am the one who is not seen.

It has been odd to be clocked at every first glance, at every handshake, at every opening encounter, as gay, strange to be born as a girlie boy, then move on to faygaleh, on to the gay nurse, the gay comic, odd to be fifty-seven and taken out to lunch by a friend, a senior bro, a man who threw rocks at the cops at Stonewall no less, who casually says:  “You’re such a silly queen,” the sting of his tongue hitting me harder than Absolut ever did.

I am the one who is not chosen.

I have known this since I was forty-one, when I first moved to Beachwood Drive, when I understood that I did not have what any man wanted, when I understood that no man would pick me, no man would stop his search and say: “Jake, you’re the one.”

Those were my cards, I played them for as long as I could before I left the game.

I made my home on Beachwood, I did stand-up, I was funny, I stopped waiting for a man to see me. 

I hold the green glass in my hand, the klieg light of the New World pours in on me, its insistent rays showing me what is necessary, showing me every detail of what life is in these New Depression days.  

Even a two-bit casting director in the Valley can sniff out the two men I am today.

The lucky man who can tell the tales of those the world does not see.

The unlucky nurse who cannot get a gig.

Whatever I have done, whoever I have hurt, as mean a drunk as I have been, I have always dropped my comic’s mask when I was a nurse, performing my art with both hands and heart, tapping out notes the way my father did on his trumpet.  I have gotten right in there with my patients, where I wanted to be to do my work. Me, with my New York City big mouth, I shut up and listened.  By listening, by being present in the room with my patients, by breathing the same air they did, I took them into me.  I could feel them.  None of us was alone. 

It was all I could do. 

That is who I am, this is what I can give.

Chosen by the Angels or not, I have believed for thirty years that I was a good nurse.  I thought myself to be a professional person, a bit rough around the edges, in need of a shave and some fancy threads perhaps, but nonetheless, I believed myself to be an upright Joe, a man who could take care of himself.

I am none of those things.  

No one wants what I have.

These are the cards the New Depression has dealt me and all the others blanched invisible by its mean light.

♦♦

I head out to the Los Feliz Post Office to mail in my unemployment paperwork.

Check it, the two weeks I worked the flu clinics qualifies me for another year on the dole.  

Lucky.

I have the stage tonight, whose bright lights will try to shoot me down when I stare defiantly into them.  For the last seventy-two hours, all day and night, the coarseness in the air has attacked my throat, clawing at it, my mucous membranes begging for relief, the way my muscles, aching from  fear and desire, demanded the fix of pills and alcohol to soothe them in my days and nights in the Frolic Room.  

I drive down Franklin Avenue and go over the evening’s monologue, a tale about encountering a facially altered Joan Van Ark on a walk around the Hollywood Reservoir, the sky pulls me up Beachwood Drive, the way it once led me to Matt’s office or condo.  The clouds, no longer heavy with ashes, move slowly past the Hollywood sign, their softness covers my City like a quilt, stitched in the year of my birth by the day players who lived in the bungalows behind the Craftsman homes lining Beachwood.  Each meticulously cut piece of material, every labored over stitch tells me that the City is not going to burn down or rumble beneath my feet any time soon.  Safe under my blanket, the sky drives my car home, where I live alone with the only thing I have of any value, my voice.  

I want the bright light to come knocking for me onstage tonight.  

Eye to eye.  

In my face.  

I am ready to talk.

I have waited two years to once again be a lucky man.

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Filed under Memoir, Personal Essay

Team Jolie in the House.

Chapter 20/2009

Team Jolie in the House.

Waiting a week into the new year to replace his 2008 calendar with its 2009 equivalent appears to have brought more luck to our lucky man.  

My friend Ann’s gift of eight hundred clams having turned around the brutal pounding of the ocean’s financial waves, I find myself spit out on to a becalmed shoreline, where I stagger through five insurance assessments in one day, netting me the scratch for my last UCLA School of Dentistry mandated crown.

If only the blue eyed dental student can sculpt an impression on his fourth time up at bat.

As I recline like a Chekhov heroine on a hard and oddly contoured examining chair, the student struggles mightily to mold an impression, simultaneously doing something he calls “refining the build up.”  After three hours in the chair, the impatience in the student’s fingertips leads me to think he is as obsessed with these two procedures as the Three Sisters are in their yearning for Moscow, what with the number of times he insists on executing said tasks. 

“You can really tell we’re in a recession,” the student says. “My parents didn’t give me the same amount of money they did last Christmas.  Not as many presents either.”

Was it Christmas a few weeks ago? I forgot.  Must be the bugs, born of working nights, who crawl under my skin as the cold concrete of fatigue swallows my hands and feet.  I limp out of the chair and ride the bus home down Sunset Boulevard, my mouth beyond throbbing, the pain making my fellow passengers appear to have red halos hovering over their heads, the Catholicism of these images reminding me the jaw pain is my fault, attributable solely to my mandibular oversensitivity. 

♦♦

My first night on duty with my lost boy patient, I asked his mother a simple question:  “I’ve never worked with an autistic child before.  Is there anything you can tell me about his condition?”

“What makes you think he’s autistic?” the mother asks.

“It’s in his medical history and in his chart…and on his care plan.”

“He has autistic features…my son’s not autistic.”

Right.  On occasion, my left ball swells up to the size of a baseball, but that does not mean I have a hydrocele.

Be quiet, I say to myself, between this case and the assessments I am working full time.  My nose can smell what is happening to me, but I do not dare allow my eyes to focus or my ears to hear.  Ignore the stench, leave the past two years behind and move on, get a life.

Like believing I can remain on the auctioned off cherry orchid my life has become, none of this is not fated to happen, most likely because I am using expressions like “move on” and “get a life.”

♦♦

“Have you seen any of the holiday movies?” the mother asks me.

I have just received my first paycheck.  I can take care of myself again. 

Play this as it lays, close to the vest.

“I want to see ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,’” I tell her.

Silence.  Mother must sense that I do not have the money to go to the movies.  She can smell it, the way I smell the rotting garbage under her sink.  The ten dollars a week spending money I allot myself every Friday vanishes by Sunday afternoon for, I believe the word is, incidentals.  Toilet paper, a prescription, oil for the car, laundry room money, ink and paper for the printer, the cleaners, pens from Staples to write my nurse’s notes with, extra gas to travel to an assessment.  When and if a Monday arrives on which I do have the two fins in my wallet, I do not spend them.  I hold on to them for three months in case an emergency pops up, a ten dollar emergency.

“We’re team Aniston in this house,” the mother says.

“She’s the definitive Debbie Reynolds to Angelina’s Elizabeth Taylor.”

My charge’s G tube explodes.  I check it out, all systems are a go.

“I love Angelina,” I say, wiping the tube feed off of my Miklis.  “The pictures I’ve seen of her with her kids…she’s earth mother.”

The vent, monotonously pushing air in and out, suddenly begins to cycle a tad too fast.  I check it out and drain off the offending condensation in its tubing. 

“She shouldn’t be allowed to adopt,” the mother says.  “They only gave them to her cause she’s a rich Hollywood bitch.  Why doesn’t she adopt an American kid?”

“You can’t say she’s not a good actress.”

Silence.  Mother is de-chilling. 

I work a verbal ice pick:  “There was a scene in ‘A Mighty Heart’ when Angelina is told her husband has been executed.  She turns her body away from the camera, she acts with her back, it’s amazing, you can feel her pain without seeing her face.”

“I didn’t see that one. I don’t like depressing shit.”

Covered as it is with piles of magazines, I look down at what I believe is the kitchen table. “People.”  “Star.”  “National Enquirer.”  “Globe.”  “US.”  “Life & Style.”  “In Touch.”  “OK!”  All are subscriptions, the mother’s last name on the mailing labels is different from the one which the agency gave me, both different from the name she signs my time sheets with.  Like the magazines, my nurse’s notes are involuntarily glued to the table, giving it the appearance of a low rent découpage. I have not yet learned that whenever I put something on this table it is pretty much stuck there for good.  Every night I am on duty, after the mother and her husband have gone into their bedroom, I stare down at the table before me, Charlie Rose and his guests talking big-time issues on the TV as I try to figure out how to remove the Octomom’s face from the table’s stained brown veneer. 

“‘Pretty Woman,’ I loved that one,” the mother says.

Julia Roberts?  My ladies are Geraldine Page, Lee Grant, Gena Rowlands and Kim Stanley.  I can not look the mother in the eye.  Julia Roberts?  Not going there.  

Now I am saying “not going there?” 

“I never got how women liked that movie,” I say.  “She was supposed to be a hooker, but come on, she looked like she never wore the same bra two days running.  In the original script, she was a drug addict, the guy pays her for the week, gets what he wants, then dumps her and drives off.”

The mother glares at me.  I forgot.  One can not have discussions about movies with chill people.  The chilled ones like what they like.  

I avoid mother’s eyes, looking past her wispy black hair to the floor to ceiling wall of metal shelving stuffed to the gills with respiratory equipment.  A dark film of grime coated with dust covers all of it, so thick and gooey it is almost impossible to wash its filth off of my hands.  Cardboard boxes filled with cans of tube feed are stacked up against the side of the oven, which is left on most nights, heating up God knows what in it crusty bowels.  Who knows what weeks of warming the feed does to it.  

Mother’s glare evaporated, her bare feet push around a rag which she seems to be using to clean the linoleum with.  It is about time. My lucky feet are welded to the floor nightly.  The first time I sat at the sticky table, I thought the heat from the oven had fused together everything within its reach.  M&M’s, licorice sticks, miniature Hershey and Snickers bars erupt out of cracked bowls, their dissolved lava calcifying over the clutter within its wake: unpaid bills, BlackBerries, cans of peas, corn and beans, tiny bottles of spices, bags of candy from the Philippines, the tabloid magazines, boxes of tissues, half full two liter bottles of Coke and mom’s Dolce Gabbana purse. These frozen in mid drip masterpieces sit atop slimy countertops.  Above them, huge bags of Doritos, Fritos and Wise Potato Chips stick out of cabinets and shelves. 

Very chill.

The mother’s feet clean around a rectangular basin filled with disinfecting solution, into which she drops the vent tubing.  According to mother, this twice weekly task not only cleanses, it purifies the tubing.  Would be nice if she washed the tubing first, but then again, I am a Virgo.  Nightly, the mother tells me she hates germs, they will make her son sick, give him a respiratory infection.  She never covers the rectangular basin, which sits next to the recycling bin, its grimy plastic top always open.  I need to keep this job, I do not tell mother and the dad you have to separate the uneaten food from its styrofoam container before discarding it.  I save my uneaten food, all of it, I bring it to work or eat it the next day.  When did I even have uneaten food to save?  The stench of the moldy food in the recycling bin hits my stomach, killing any hunger pangs I have, saving me food money for the week.  

Lucky man that I am, I have come to depend on life’s unanticipated gifts.

The mother is still talking, she has been going on for at least ten minutes, babbling something about how women, even the hookers on Hollywood Boulevard, want to believe a man like Richard Gere will save them.  Gere would not last ten minutes in this filth, funkier than any indie film squalor.  The smell of the open garbage can under the sink grabs my throat, my nostrils try to push out the stench of both it and the recycling bin.  No go.  The mother and dad do not empty either very often.  They do not have time for chores, what with both not working and staying home all day.  They must be exhausted after supervising the day nurse from eight in the morning until four in the afternoon.  Even I could clean this place up.  Easily.  Mother and dad are lucky, they have a working vacuum cleaner, full bottles of Windex, bleach and spray cleanser and dozens of rolls of paper towels. 

Let them live in their dirt, I need this gig.  Breathing in the smells that foul the kitchen air keeps me alert, on edge, awake and angry.  Even if I can not feel the air on my skin, it is time to open my eyes again, to hear the sounds around me.  

The mother continues her monologue.  I smile.  Nod my head.  Of course, women want what you are talking about, all my women friends want that.  I wash the respiratory equipment the day nurse used earlier in the day.  The mother left it to soak in an uncovered basin in the sink next to the dirty dishes, directly under the faucet.  Wanting to stay lucky, I do not ask.

♦♦

After three weeks on duty, I catch a cold.  I have never experienced anything like this, my head is molten liquid, my nose a fountain of thick green snot, my lungs burning up at dawn, my throat coughing until my ribs feel like they are cracking apart.  I sit on the toilet for hours a day, emptying out whatever it is that has wormed its way into me.  I am off the case for a week, food money will be tight.  I still have the ten bucks in my wallet, but this is not the emergency.  Rice, peanut butter and jelly, a bag of pasta. Luckily, I am not the least bit hungry.

The mother and dad interrogate me when I return to work.  

“Do you catch colds often?”

“Why did you get so sick?”

“Will my son catch what you had?”

I smile.  Nod my head.  I tell them I am not used to staying up all night. I am fifty-six, after all.  They tell me I look forty.  I will not after a few more months of this mishegas.  I could tell them I have not had a cold in two years. I look around at the sticky table, the open recycling bin, the filthy shelves, the perpetually heated up oven.  I smile.  Nod my head.  I use rubbing alcohol to wipe down the Ikea folding table which stands next to the chair I sit on during the captivity of my eight hour shift, this chair being the only adult sized piece of furniture in the living room.  Who knows what is living and breathing on the chair and table, but it is a bitch to scrub the table clean.  For fifteen minutes every night, I work that table, only to find it filthy again the next night, filthy every night I work.  

I pick up the wastepaper basket next to the table, extending my neck to keep my head as far away from it as I can.  This basket has a different stench than that of the kitchen, filled to its brim with soiled diapers, used suctioned catheters and dirty baby wipes.  The lost boy is eight years old and still in diapers.  Unlucky kid.  I move the basket to the other side of the room, covering its exposed contents with a newspaper.  I empty it as soon as the chill parents fall asleep.  

Whenever I mess with the living room’s feng shui, the parents look at me as if I have rejected not only Julia Roberts, but her more talented in his pinky finger brother Eric.

“It’s just me,” I say.  I smile. Nod my head.  “I’m a total clean freak.  No worries. It’s just something I do.”

With bleach followed by water, I wipe down an area the size of an envelope on the kitchen counter top, on which I set out the night’s medications.  Beneath a leaking faucet, the respiratory equipment soaks in the sink, the disinfecting solution working its magic in the basin on floor.  I cover both nightly when the parents sleep.

“You don’t have to wash the dishes at night,” the mother says.

“You have enough on your plate,” I tell her.  “No biggie if I wash a few dishes.  I live to clean.”

Like I would actually wash the respiratory equipment with the spore breathing dishes and cruddy glasses in the sink.  Let them think I am a prissy queen, a queen who could only be saved by Eric Roberts, I will wash the dishes. 

“Us team Jolie guys are like that,” I tell the chilled couple.

♦♦

On my day off, my friend Steven takes me as his plus one to see a play he is reviewing in a theatre on La Brea.

Using my emergency ten bucks, we feast on double portions of Chinese food before the show.  I treat myself to a can of ice cold Coke.

“You’re a writer,” Steven says.  “Write out what is happening to you.”

The air of the City of the Angels touches my skin.

If you are lucky, a few words can wash you clean.

A fan of the play’s lead, Robin Thomas, since his days on my fav soap “Another World,” I try to concentrate on the Chekhovian inspired machinations being played out before me.  On a late Sunday afternoon in Hollywood, the traffic sails along La Brea as my ears drink in Robin’s words, my eyes seeing who I once was, the bugs falling from beneath my fingernails, the concrete melting off of my hands and feet, the pounding of my blood telling me the only way I can turn the ocean around is to pick the gun I have pointed at myself up off of the table and write out the last two years. 

Tears running down his stubbly face, the lucky man knows what he has to do.

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