Monday, April 30, 2012


Gorge and disgorge, viscera and evisceration, inside to outside, frontwards, backwards, sideways and then, stillness. He clutches the cool porcelain, dripping sweat into the congealed mess a foot below his face, teeth exposed between quivering lips. He peers out of slit eyes into a chunky miasma, his body asserting itself against his buzzing brain. He hovers for a still second.

Retching resumes. The front of his bent body is the locus for both its gravity and sensitivity; he stubs a splayed toe against the tub but the pain flitters away, washed out of the psychic gulag by a thick and acidic flow. Is that a tooth? No—softer, organic. A legume, maybe. Peanuts had been served in the near past. Oh God. Another heave, this one sputtering.

He rests, panting in great sucking gasps, eyes clenched, the butt of his right hand supporting his head. No more contents to void; the rest is in his bloodstream, accounting for the impossibility of fixing his spinning mind in place.

Blood from a puffed lip dots the front of his chambray shirt. He rises from the toilet as from bowed prayer, looks out the window, and sees a bird. Head cocked in profile, it peers at him through a black bead. A bird that is blue is a... bluebird?

Turning to face the window, he raises a weak middle finger and chuckles darkly. "Screw you, Healthy." But the blue bird jerks its head at him; its movement sends his brain whirling back and he throws himself into a dry retch. When he looks up the bird has flown, its branch swaying, bare against a shrill sky. Resting his butt on a shoe, he sits himself up and exhales with pronounced restraint.

Sweat drips to the tip of his nose and jiggles; the tickle triggers a sneeze, the sneeze yanks him into a half-flip and his forehead whacks the radiator; he lands on his back with a clatter across the linoleum, holding his face. He applies his palms to his watery eyes until sleep spreads over him.

Hours later, a headache wakes him to suggest that his brain is ripping itself into a black hole. He snorts, rocks himself forward, places his arms around his knees. The world throbs, compressing him.

A memory; he looks above the tub. A camera's red light pierces him from its precarious placement atop a soap shelf over the basin. He reaches for it, grabs it, brings it to himself, and presses the large button. The light ceases.

With a click, the tape comes out of its 90s plastic berth and lands in his grubby palm. He fingers it around and finds the words "stop drinking" written in sharpie on a piece of affixed masking tape. "Crap," he mumbles, looking around on the floor, "crap." He repeats the word as the hand holding the tape bobs up and down. With a final glance down at the toilet and back up, he flings the tape in the bowl, and has taken a step towards the door before he hears the faint splash. "Crap," he whispers. He grabs the handle and timidly eases into a dank hallway, where he stumbles to his bedroom. Tomorrow is a new day—so he consoles himself as his ratty mattress cushions his forward fall.