So, this blogging business. I dunno, maybe I’m just not cut out for it. I mean it was fine when I was doing the whole on-line novel deal, that gave me something to do on a pretty regular basis. But whaddya want me to do? The writing advice thing? Not my deal. More recipes? Hey, the public health people probably already have me on a watch list after Baconsagna. What to do, what to do . . .
Hey, I’m supposed to be a writer, right? So maybe just write shit. Now, I don’t know how the rest of you work. Me? I get these ideas — might be a situation, might be a character — and I just sort of start messing with them. Usually, they don’t go anywhere. Or maybe they go into cold storage and I haul them out later and use them in something else. Think of it as a journal or a notebook.
So what the hell, I’ve already written a novel in public, why don’t I just give ya’ll a ticket to the whole show. I’m a bit of an exhibitionist anyway, I don’t mind working with an audience. So, henceforth, interupted by the occasional review or interview or whatever, I’ll just do my literary doodling here. Weigh in if you like, watch if you’d rather, avert your eyes if you must.
I’ll throw this out there to kick things off. This guy’s been picking at my brain for a couple days, so I wrote this up this morning. Don’t even know the guy’s name yet. Not sure on his history. But I kind of feel him, if that makes sense. Maybe it’s the beginning of the next novel. Maybe it ends up as a short. Maybe it ends up in the garbage. But here’s what I got so far.
Looks like Grenadine. That’s what I thought when I coughed that first load of blood into the john. Indicative of my issues, really. I’ve seen plenty of blood, my own and others, but when I hawked up that first load, my mind instantly went to cocktail ingredients. I was still on the wagon at that point – this was a week ago Wednesday – had been on the wagon for coming up on four years. Still, I look in the toilet bowl at maybe a couple ounces of my own essence, and my first thought is Grenadine.
Give me some credit, though. Right after Grenadine, I thought “Oh shit,” or its generic equivalent. I mean yeah, I’m a drunk, but you wake up in the morning, clear what you think is just some AM crud out of your throat and instead you leave a good-sized blood loogie in the crapper, it makes an impression.
So I start thinking about my health care options, and they come down to the free clinic over on Harrison. I’d been working day labor when I could get it the last four years, living in the SRO. Before that, before my epiphany or whatever you want to call it, well, the money was better, but the guys I worked with, it’s not like they were big on medical plans. So I wait a couple hours to see the doc, and he takes maybe 30 seconds worth of listen to my chest, pokes me a couple times, and packs me off to County with orders for some x-rays and shit. Or it used to be County. They went and named it after that Stroger guy, which I guess makes sense. Place that run down, service that bad, it’s only right that it’s named after some Cook County hack political lifer who went and won an election a couple weeks after a stroke had already turned him into an eggplant. Then they slotted his kid into the seat. Just the way it goes, at least around here.
So I sit in the waiting room for a few hours with the rest of the uninsured – squalling kids with ear infections, skeletal hookers waiting for their AIDs meds, paraplegic ex-gangbangers in cheap-ass Medicare wheelchairs with their colostomy bags hanging off the back . Finally, they take some blood, a couple of X-rays, they stuff me back in the waiting area, and about 9pm, I got the word from some foreign intern. Lung cancer. The guy wanted to schedule some surgery, confirm things and what not, but it looked pretty much like a slam dunk. So I ask him if it is cancer, what am I looking at, and he hems and haws about how he’s not an oncologist, but I brace him pretty good – I mean yeah, it’s been a few years, but I still know how to brace a guy — and he tells me as big as the tumor is, he’s gotta figure it’s metastasized, so one way or another, I’m on the clock, and probably a short clock at that.
Seems like there ought to be a protocol of some kind. Most of your life milestones, you got rituals. You get married, you have a wedding. You have a kid, you got the baptism. You finish school, you got a graduation. You die, you get the funeral, but you’re not around for that. Oughta be some kind of find-out-your-gonna-die deal. Instead, I got back to the SRO, heat up another can of Chef Boyardee on the hot plate and eat a late dinner. Chef Boyardee is my last concession to my own dignity. Always told myself, things get bad enough that I need to get the store-brand beef-a-roni, then it’s time to eat a gun instead. I still got a gun. Figure I still know how to use it. I hear it’s like falling off a fucking bicycle.