The Unknown: The Red Line.
  I remember this night. It was the crescendo of our spiral of self-destructive behavior. I don’t remember anything for weeks before, and the period afterward is a confused blur.

Dirk had taken too much acid in too short a time, and required almost half a sheet to get off. A reader had traded (for copies of the anthology) a lot of mescaline in microdot form. We were being swept toward the falls by a vicious undertow, we could all feel it, and so we swam with the current. Dirk spilled the vial and tiny blue red and green dots rolled all over the glass coffee table. Frank, William, and I scrambled to collect the tiny pellets before they were lost to the carpet in confusion. We each ate a great many without consideration. As the three of us scraped the table with our hands, practically licking it, collecting in our cupped palms microdots, ashes, cocaine and beer residue, shake, roaches, lint, eating all of it, Dirk, realizing what had happened, screamed and drove his leg down through the glass face of the coffee table in a spray of microdots and broken glass.

We rolled away from the table and Dirk stood there stunned, his pant leg torn.

There was already blood.

We could feel the madness surge through the tiny room like we were immersed in a rapid flood of adrenaline.

Dirk began to crawl around looking for microdots in a shag carpet littered with glass shards, pills, and cigarette butts.

This was a near-impossible task for a man in his condition, and, as he grunted, we watched, nervous.

Frank stood up and sat on the bed and picked up the remote and turned on CNN.

There was a story about air strikes in Kosovo.

William stood up next, and walked unsteadily to the tiny refrigerator, whose supply of tiny bottles of whiskey and liqueur we had almost erased.

He pulled out a tiny bottle of Dewars, unscrewed and drained it, tossed it aside.

He pulled out a tiny bottle of Johnny Walker Red Label, unscrewed and drained it, tossed it aside.

He pulled out a tiny bottle of Oban, unscrewed and drained it, tossed it aside.

I lit a cigarette without taking my eyes off Dirk.

He had the fever. I could see it.

He might, at any moment, break furniture, cry, or recite To The Lighthouse, which he had an uncanny ability to do when intoxicated beyond any peninsula of reason in the deep and deadly tides of sensation.

William opened a can of Tücher Hefe-Weizen.

He was trying to remember where we had put the marijuana. Good. We needed something to mellow the vibe.


Then I heard a toilet flush and a shriek from the bathroom.

William, still looking around for the marijuana, went to the bathroom, and tried the door.

It was locked.

Frank screamed again.

“What is it?” William yelled, pounding on the door.

NATO troops were bombing former Yugoslavia.

Frank’s voice was shrill: “Deconstructionism!” He screamed again.

William began to kick the door.

Dirk looked upset.

I felt that it was time for my next fix and I wished Frank would leave the bathroom.

It was unknown how many casualties there had been so far.

William kicked the door down and ran into the bathroom where Frank was crying loudly.

Dirk stood up.

“Let’s have some marijuana, how about? It’ll mellow us out,” I offered, shaking.

Dirk sat on the bed.

“Where’s the boo, Dirk?”


“It’s cool, Frank, it’s cool. Derrida isn’t here, man, there’s no theory here, man.”

President Clinton said something about Democracy.

Dirk opened his suitcase, took out a revolver, and shot the television.

The first bullet missed. Plaster fell from the wall.

The second bullet made the screen go black.

Clinton explained how Serbia had destabilized the region.

The third bullet silenced him.

The fourth bullet basically tore the set apart.

There were, I reasoned, two bullets left. There was some anxiety.

Dirk looked troubled. He was pointing the revolver at the scorched wall where the TV had been.

Frank was throwing up blood.

William, oblivious, covered with Frank’s vomit, stumbled back to the refrigerator, walking through Dirk’s line of fire.

He opened a can of Fosters.

“Dirk,” I suggested, “let’s call room service for a pizza.”
Audio Button
How We Trashed the Hotel Room
Read 10/23/98
at The University of Cincinnati
577K RealAudio Clip

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The Unknown at Spineless Books.