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…so this begins when I wake up in a puddle of my own spit, face down on my desk with my typewriter in front of me. I blink and wipe my mouth. I see little white things floating in the puddle. A closer look and I see they’re pills, and I don’t know why there are so many. I’m in my white boxers, I wonder where my clothes are.
A phone rings somewhere. My body screams at me. The phone goes off again and again, but I ignore it and rub my eyes with my palms, and feel an abnormal heat coming from them.
And then I realize that my manuscript is gone. I think it’s just my fucked up mind playing, so I look and see there’s nothing beside my typewriter and I’m freaking out because the draft of my book is gone, and I’m not sure anymore it’s my typewriter.
I look around my desk, flipping sheets, moving piles and books, and it escalates into tossing stuff around, looking for the two hundred page manuscript that I had devoted the last year of my life to.
And a phone just sounds and sounds, and after two minutes of throwing stuff, I get pissed off and switch to finding the phone. I pick it up but I wait for the person to say something.
“Who is this ?”
“Calvin ? Is that you ?”
“Who the fuck is this ?”
“It’s Bernie. Jesus, I’ve represented you for three years, man, and you still don’t recognize my voice ? Dude, I’m hurt.” And I sit down on the bed, which smells like sweat, and sex, and rub my face. My head begins a slow beat, and I’m thinking – my manager ? I go with it.
I say, “No, no…I know how you sound Bernie. Just a little out of it.”
“I’m impressed you’re alive. Where are you ? Don’t tell me you’re still in that cheap, rental apartment, Calvin, you gotta get the hell out of there ! I mean, inspiration aside and all…” A cockroach the size of golf ball skitters across the floor.
Is that why I’m here ? And my head is pounding harder now. I get pissed and go, “Bernie, what happened to my book ? It’s fucking gone and I’m on page 124 -” And I’m looking around the small room hoping I spot a few pages peaking out of a drawer or underneath a pile of something.
He goes, “Look, I’ll get you a copy with the new cover, alright ? Jesus…I told you it was the press’ fault. Something about plates not taking colors. Anyways, it’s done my friend and it looks better than the first printing -”
I’m nervous now, and confused and I don’t know what he’s talking about so I laugh and go, “Bernie, I haven’t even finished it yet. I’m missing the manuscript, my draft, Jesus, did you smoke something ?” And I laugh again but he says nothing, and I’m pissing my pants and feeling edgy. I ask if he’s still there, and his voice goes serious and says, “Cal, baby, you signed a movie deal for it three nights ago…the book…the book’s been – the stores have been stocking it for over a year now….fuck, Cal, are you on drugs again ? Jesus, you artists and inspiration…I swear you use that word as an excuse to experiment anything….”
I watch a white pill tumble off the table. There’s a humming noise that cuts through my ears and my head pounds like a bass drum, and I think I say : “When did I quit ?” And then say, “When did I start ?” And then something like, What’ve you done to my draft ? in a really loud scream, and Bernie’s voice is fading away and going in slow motion like a stretched out cassette, and I’m trying to remember anything about myself and I can’t, and before I black out, I see dozens of empty clear-orange and dark red prescription bottles. They’re spread out all over the green-white checkered floor.
There’s no water, just black space, inky-can’t see your hand-black.
A woman swims by me, her long brown hair is flowing behind her and she’s naked except for a long sheet of pink linen that flows around and on her body, and she smiles at me, and just as she passes by another copy of her moves on my left with the same pink linen, and a third swims up behind me and grabs me, her sheet wrapping itself around my body, and then I’m being blinded by lights popping off in my face
and I’m posing for pictures with people, and I’m signing the front page of a book, my book, and when I close it I can’t read the cover or see the picture, it’s all blurry, and I’m asking people to help me, but they don’t even know I’m there until they get a photo, and now I’m screaming, “Why can’t I see my book ?” and people are grabbing copies, and then snapping pictures of me with them, and I’m on a rooftop penthouse somewhere, and it’s cold, and there are dozens of people sipping champagne, holding my book, and talking to each other and in between they grab me and take a picture, they’re faceless people, all I see are suits, dresses and skirts, and legs and shoes, but I can’t identify anybody, and I’m fucking freaking out because when they try to talk to me, a big hole tears open where their faces are supposed to be and their voices sound like a woman’s high pitched scream mixed with breaking glass and
in a book store looking myself up, but all of my books on the table are being picked up by customers, and I’m pushing my way through but all the copies are gone, and all I want is to see my book, to finally see it on the shelves, but the faceless customers are grabbing every copy, and grabbing me, and I’m signing and taking pictures, and my head feels like its splitting in two, and I scream because I don’t know why I’m here, or if this was real, but nobody cares or hears and they take their photos anyway, and the lady comes back, the pink linen sheet wrapped around her, skin pale like cream, her green eyes flash when she kisses me
I’m in a park, no, a campus, a university campus, and I’m looking at her, the pink linen lady, but she has clothes and a backpack and books with her, and I’m saying something like, What’s happening to me, Barb ? truly freaking out, edgy and nervous, and fucking terrified, and she goes, You can’t love anyone. You can’t even love you, Calvin Struss. It’s the reason why I left. It’s the reason your in this mess, she says, and she’s mad and hurt at the same time, and I’m falling apart inside, like freaking shattering to pieces and I want to lock myself in a prison and never have to worry about anything ever, but I tell her she was – is – my Muse, and she scoffs and laughs in my face, and I look down at
and my face is in really soft hair, and I’m sniffing up the coke I find in the parts of the hairs and the pale skin underneath, and I realize I’m in between a woman’s legs doing drugs off of her, and I look up from the woman’s privates, all I can see is flesh all around me, and there are people everywhere having sex, and I can’t see who they are or the details of anything, I just hear muffled noises, moans, screams, and we’re in that shitty apartment I passed out in, and I don’t want to be there anymore, and then everybody’s suddenly too close, and there’s skin touching me, and I try and pull away, but I feel trapped and isolated and alone, and I get up and look for the door but it’s fucking vanished, and I feel itchy and dirty and my stomach is nauseous and I open my mouth and throw up, and I want to get out, get out, like, fucking right now ! and I scream, a fucking yell that burns my throat and lungs and
…. I’m in a hospital bed. Tubes everywhere and I can hear the machine beeping, and the hissing sound of the other one breathing beside me.
“Hello,” The voice belongs to the Pink Linen Lady and when I turn she’s reading a chart at the foot of my bed. Her hair is tied up in a tail and she’s wearing pink linen pajamas. “And how are we doing, Mr. Struss ?”
“I’m doing great, Barb. It’s nice to see you today. Did you happen to speak to Bernie ?”
She writes something down on her chart and goes, “Spoke to him this morning and he says that he found your manuscript. He’ll be sending it to the publishers tomorrow.” She puts the chart back and checks the machine, and I follow her with my eyes and she comes in close to flash a small flashlight at my eyes.
I pat her hand with my spotted, wrinkly, gnarled one, and tell her that she looks just as good as she did when we dated years ago, and she smiles and nods, and then tells me she’ll be back later to check on me, and as my eyes are shutting, I can see her talking to someone in white outside :
“….he’s slipping further…another breakdown last night….severely agitated and distraught….yelling and screaming….”
“…monitor and make sure he’s comfortable….advanced stages….mixing up reality and memories….famous writer….”
And Barb tells the man in the white something and I leave again, inky-blackness swirls around me and I see my first and only love, the real Barbara, the pink linen swirling around me and her, and she kisses me with passion and we just float and drift awa -
…so this begins