Friday night. A heat wave is gripping the city by the throat. It’s 9:30pm. I am sweating it out in my un-air conditioned house clad only in my blue and white stripped boxer shorts. Dizzy from the heat, I attempt to take my mind off my discomfort by reading a thin little paperback book of dark short stories called Jesus’ Son by Denis Johnson. It helps a little, in a surrealistic way.
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To make matters worse, half a dozen flies are circling in the thick warm air. The flies are slowly beginning to drive me insane. They alight upon me occasionally - on my hands; on my legs; on my arms. I try to brush them away, hoping to regain my concentration. But it’s useless. Finally I experience an emotional breakdown of deadly proportions.
There’s a fly on my knee and in a rage I strike it as hard as I can with the cover of the book. I turn the book over slowly and examine the flat dead fly who’s attached to it. I flick it off, note the blood stain that has become part the book’s title, and continue my watch.
Suddenly, there’s another fly on the top of my right hand. I smash it with page three of a story called Car Crash While Hitchhiking. I am sweating and excited now. I am shocked by the animal pleasure of it all. Jesus’ Son and I have become death.
I dispatch one more Dipteral victim with the back cover of the book and jump from my chair. I rush to the kitchen cupboard and grab a half-empty can of insecticide. I fill the stagnate air of the living room with the deadly vapor. I become intoxicated by the fumes as I watch the flies dropping like flies. My mind spinning like a dreidel.
I slowly retreat to the kitchen and prepare a shot of Jack Daniels on the rocks. I sip it contentedly as I lean against the counter and a sink half-full of dirty dishes. I am happy in the moment but I know my victory is bittersweet. I may have won the battle, but I will never win the war.