hose fuckers left
me behind. My car was gone and my laptop too. Which has all my
writing on it. Bastards. What they had done was clear, and what end
of the stick
they left me with. The Unknown Slush Fund? That was gone, too. In Dirks
fridge, there was a moldy crust of Gorgonzola, a flat, half-drunk Miller
High Life, and some sour buttermilk. The place disgusted me and it
smelled like rot, so I got the hell out of there.
Every mans a con man and you cant
trust those guys as far as you can throw them into a pile of trash.
lit a cigarette and wondered why
they left me, and stole my shit, and what they planned to with it. It
somehow, thats what it always comes down to, thats the bottom
line, dollars and cents. Could I hold it against these guys if they
in for the quick kill, if they were on the make from day one?
Of course I could, and I did. I was walking up McMillan Street at fucking
5 A.M. and I wished harm upon those guys. I hadnt changed the
oil in about two years and I smiled as I thought that the Corrolla
might pick now
to crawl up and die. Not that I wanted something extremely bad to happen
to those guys. They fucked up, they were thieves,
they were deceitful, hey whats new?
But why now, and why like this, and why did they take my writing and
my laptop too? Itd be one thing if they left me with something,
but of course Dirks computer was just a twisted mass of charred
metal and plastic, after that rocket scientist had, one acid-discombobulated
up with the brilliant idea of trying to wire his hotplate directly into
his motherboard so that he could fry up little cocktail weenies for
supper while he was proofing The Unknown.
The best laid plans of guys like Dirk and William . . . so these fuckers
left me no way to write . . . again I wondered what they were planning
on doing with my writing . . . sell it? Yeah, right. On a good day, when
the sun is shining and folks are feeling generous, my writing and a buck
will get you a cup of coffee.
By now theyd probably sold the laptop, and discarded
my only copy of all my best shit. That hurt me, right there. It was like
a sharp kick to the gut from a cop at the rail yard.
Which is where I was headed, just as soon as I got done stealing a portable
typewriter and a ream of paper from the University of Cincinnati English
Department. It was early, and nobody really recognized me with my beard,
and it was just sitting there in the corner. No big deal, I figured, Im
a writer, so I need a typewriter at least, you know?
So at the rail yard I stumbled, the portable in my backpack was kind of
heavy and the train was moving fast. Fell flat on my face and the next
thing I know, this bulls standing there holding me by the scruff of my
neck. He knows my name. Somebody at the Department
noticed the ream of paper was missing and phoned it in. Even as I was
hopping the rail yard fence in hopes of catching the eastbound to Indianapolis,
the helicopter had been hovering behind.
So they put me in a holding cell with a bunch of guys and I dont
want to write much about that. I worked out a deal with a guy. He made
nobody queened me, and in exchange, I explained to him the
finer points of James Joyces Ulysses, and
additionally made up some shit about Gravitys
Guy had some smack, too, so within an hour I was back
on the dirty shit.
Tom LeClair bailed me out and got me a bus ticket back to Chicago. He
urged me to stay the hell away until the heat cooled off. The Dean said
hed drop the charges if Id do a web page for his dog, but
want to see my ass among those rolling hills
until I returned for my dissertation defense,
and I agreed.
I sold off all Dirks books at a used bookstore for a grand total of twenty
bucks before I got on the Greyhound. I was sweating all the way back to Indianapolis. My life was shit and
nobody could be trusted. Those guys would take the whole floor if you
gave them an inch.
I scored more H in Indie. I was nodding the
whole way back to Union Station. I was seeing angels through the fog
I didnt give a rats ass about those guys trying to scrape
a few bucks off the shabby remainders of my lifes work. I had
the fix and I was in it. For me the writing was about the writing of
it. Those guys would never
understand that. Money slips away, I
would have it and then it would be gone. Let them take it and make some
fucking Otto Preminger-type of Hollywood extravaganza
with it. I made the words and I had my fix. It was dark and I was nodding.
Figure it all out in the morning, which anyway might never come.
I walked from Union Station to the El at Clark and Lake. The night was
cold and it was windy. Little pellets of freezing rain cut into my cheeks
like daggers of betrayal. I rode the train in a trance, got off
the Blue Line at Division, stopped in at Cut
Rate Liquors, stood at the long bar and began to get drunk. Old Style
and shots of Jamesons,
four apiece, and I got to admit that Im feeling the anger. Two
guys get into a knife fight at the other
end of the bar and before you know it Im arguing with some toothless
postal worker having a couple on the way to his route.
Look, Sparky, it was the guy with the knife out first what was to blame.
Theyre all scum. Thats why I dont give a rats
ass about yer mail, or any that comes out of the Wicker Park Station.
Half these people are scum, and Im gonna risk my life for the other
half? Right. Id rather burn the shit. Fuck these people.
Dont say that.
You live here, you can kiss your mail goodbye.
Im drunk and tired and I live in the area and mail is tremendously important
to me and I dont always get it, so the next thing I know were swinging
and crashing into bottles. Last thing I remember the bartender has hopped
over the bar, theres a shotgun in my nose and some beefy bastard picks
me up by my feet and throws me face first on the pavement and Im a bloody
mess as I start to crawl towards Paulina.
I score more H on Cortez and shoot it up under the streetlight. The night
is cold and one of my teeth is hanging on only by a bit of gumskin and
Im shooting a vile chemical into my veins and it seems like the
only the thing that can comfort me and Im standing amidst the rats
and winos and the filth and garbage and Im wishing I had a song.
Then some fuckers in a Cabriolet roll me, I dont remember much, they
took my last five bucks and left me bleeding in the gutter. A bald guy
woke me up, saying Hey, hey, hey, as I was drifting through pleasure
and pain, imagining Im hearing jazz, clotting blood filming over my eyes,
wet and sticky on my skin. Turns out the guys Myopic Joe, he takes me
to his bookstore. He lets me wash up, loans me
a copy of City on the Make, and he makes me some coffee.
When I finally make it back to the apartment on Paulina, the next morning
after the night before after the night before that, theres an eviction
notice on my door but the key works and most of my shits still there.
Maestro has been fed during my absence, and
his litter box is clean. Nobody sold me out in Chicago. My cat attempts
to lick my wounds and I shoo him away. A light blinks on the answering
Dirk and William. The axle broke in West Virginia, and they need a ride.
Fuckers. I scrape up all my change and head for Division Street thinking
I know where theres a game I can get in on for cheap. Maybe I can win
a few hands and come up with enough to buy a