M. Robert Fisher
I could feel my blood pressure rising. I could feel this hurricane, typhooning underneath my skin; my skin the sky, my blood an ocean, a brine, a melting pot. I woke before I was swept away. My eyes shuttered, I was seeing double. Even triple. I focused and saw two bottles of whiskey at my bed side. The air mattress was deflated again. I didn’t even attempt to struggle to my feet. Not yet. I listened for Roddy but there was no snoring. I figured he’d gone to work. I sat up as the room spun around me, taunting me, teasing me, torturing me. I lifted one of the whiskey bottles. Empty. I lifted the other. Empty. Had we finished off two bottles of whiskey in a night? Had I? I raised to my feet. I stumbled then I entered the bathroom and whipped it out. I started to urinate.
I was struggling to regain consciousness. Familiar but fragmented images started to appear like a Polaroid. What had happened? I thought. As I regained my sight I realized I was laying in Roddy’s tub, cock out, piss down my leg. Fuck. I stood and put away my cock. I wiped down my leg with tissue paper and began turning the lights on and off whilst staring into the mirror to self-diagnose. My pupils reacted. It wasn’t a seizure. I exited the bathroom with piss stained boxer briefs to Roddy sitting up in bed with a perplexed but amused look on his face.
“What?” I asked.
“Did you fall down?” He asked.
“Kind of,” I started, “I passed out mid-stream and woke up in your tub.”
He laughed and went back to sleep. I aired up the mattress, pulled it into the living room, and put ‘Barfly’ on my computer and fell back asleep to the words of Charles Bukowski spraying out around my atmosphere, glimmers of fractured light falling over me in a lulling and validating midst. He’d be proud, I thought.
I woke up a few hours later and took a shower. I had a bruise on my thigh and lower abdomen, right side. My right, your left. I’d fallen backwards so that didn’t explain the second bruise. My liver, I thought. I should have been concerned, scared. I felt alive, as the hot, metallic water splashed over my face. I washed my beard. After the shower I shaved it off. Everything was backwards. Roddy had already left for work. I made lunch and read Hunter S. Thompson while I waited for Roddy to return from work. I can’t believe I just flew in last night, I thought. It was raining.
Roddy returned from work exhausted. He panted lightly as he entered. His eyes blood shot, his face wilting, his wings melting; this is what gainful employment does to people, I thought.
“How you feeling?” He asked as he entered the kitchen.
“Fine,” I started, “You?”
“Tired. Still up for doing something tonight?”
“I don’t see why not.”
“I’m going to have a snack and take a nap. Wake me up in an hour?”
I nodded and went back to reading.
Three hours later Roddy finally awoke.
“Why didn’t you wake me up?” He asked as he rose from bed.
“I was working,” I responded in the dark, my face painted blue by the light of my computer screen.
“I was musing,” I said as I looked up.
“Have you showered?”
“Okay, get ready, then. I’m going to take a quick shower and we’ll leave after that.”
In the midst of this life. This life away from life. I sat in the dark, soaking in the absence of reality, or my reality. My escape from Los Angeles had just begun, bruised and battered, this was my repose, my gift. You’re welcome, I thought. I wasn’t sure who it was meant for. Maybe me.
We entered the restaurant and were greeted by a busty, middle aged woman, with curves that could outwit a silhouette. She sat us at a tiny table in the center of the restaurant, with empty tables and chairs on either side of us, waiting, begging for company. We, however, did not share this sentiment. We were two people addicted to solitude and had somehow found away to mimic this isolated life with each other. The affectation of isolated lives bouncing off of each other, miming normalcy, in hopes of brushing up against something peripheral to our own private dearth, gleaming with the rest of humanity. Strangers would only serve to pollute the fantasy.
“Do you ever feel like life is mundane?” He asked as he looked over the wine list.
“I don’t know,” I started, “Everything has always felt pointless. But I’ve always felt an outcast.”
“That is society telling you how to be,” he said almost defensively.
“It’s society reflecting the absences in myself. It’s society that I envy.”
“Whatever. You shouldn’t be afraid to be yourself.”
“I’m not. Would just rather not have to listen to the feedback.”
“You don’t. I think we should get a bottle of port,” he said.
“I don’t care as long as it’ll feed my bruise,” I said looking over the dinner menu.
“What?” He asked looking down at me over the wine list.
“Nothing,” I said as I turned the page.
Why concern him with the physical proof of my drinking problem? And really, it’s only a problem if it’s upsetting you and getting in the way of you living your life. I was happy and living exactly the life I wanted to be living. Others might not envy but their lack of envy doesn’t effect my satisfaction. You don’t pay for my life, you own it.
Roddy ordered the ham with beats. I got the lamb chops. With parsley, sweetening it at the tips, with scallops and asparagus and a layer a rich cheese sauce. We drank two bottles of wine.
“Remember the time you stabbed me?” Roddy asked after drinking from his glass.
“Yep,” I said forking food into my mouth.
“Asshole,” he said.
“I’d do it again, too.”
“If you could have any superpower which superpower would you want,” he asked now simply to annoy me.
“Do we have to talk?”
“The inability to speak?” He joked.
“The ability to travel back in time and stab you in the throat before you asked me that question,” I said as I finished off a glass of wine. I grabbed for the bottle but Roddy snagged it before me and laughed. He always gets a little obnoxious when he drinks. He finished off the second bottle. As the waitress passed I ordered a scotch.
“My landlord thinks I am Mexican,” Roddy said.
“I’m not!” He snapped.
“Yeah, but you look it,” I said as the waitress brought over my scotch. I sipped it in, my eyes closing in repose, the aspiration coaxing me, sweeping me off my feet to dance the dance as the scotch trickled down my esophagus into a belly full of lamb.
“I’m not fucking Mexican though,” he said snapping me out of my scotch induced reverie.
“You’re Filipino and Native American,” I said.
“Not Mexican,” he said, again.
“You know what Mexicans are, right?”
“Dirty pieces of shit that park their cars on their lawns,” he said angrily.
“No, I mean where they are descended from,” I said running my finger around the rim of my glass.
“No,” he started, “Why the fuck would I care?”
“Well, Mexicans from Mexico are descended from the Spanish raping Native American women,” I said. I threw in the rape for dramatic effect. I don’t doubt they did and nobody was here to defend them.
“So?” He said finishing off another glass of wine. He reached for my scotch but I pulled it away.
“Don’t know much about Filipinos?” I asked.
“Is there a point to any of this?”
“Filipinos are Spanish mixing with Malaysians,” I said hoping he could do the math.
“This is stupid,” he said.
“No, because the reality is, you are Mexican in a round about way.”
“How so?” He was getting angry.
“You’re Native American and part Spanish from your Filipino roots. Technically, people aren’t wrong in thinking you’re Mexican. Neither of your parents are green but one has enough blue and the other has enough yellow to get the job done.”
“That’s not how it works!”
I shrugged and smiled as I sat back and sipped at my glass.
“THAT’S NOT HOW IT WORKS!” He screamed as he stood up from his chair.
I laughed to myself. He walked away to what I presumed was the bathroom. A wave of satisfaction hit me, crashing over me in a powerful, absolving splash. That was why I loved Roddy. Sane people are boring.
Roddy sat back down calmer, self-satisfied.
“I’m Irish too,” he said.
“You don’t look it,” I said.
That night, I woke up to Roddy standing over me, shaking me out of my slumber, my stupor. It took a moment for me to catch on that it was reality and not an extension of a dream I wouldn’t remember.
“Hey,” he said continuing to shake me.
“My eyes are open,” I started, “That means there is no need to shake me anymore.”
“Sorry,” he started, “Hey.”
“Let’s get a hooker?”
“I don’t know. Yeah.”
“You woke me up to tell me you want to get a hooker at,” I stopped and pondered for a moment. “What time is it?”
“It’s midnight,” he said.
“When did we fall asleep?” I asked.
“We didn’t. You passed out at around nine.”
“I didn’t pass out,” I said defensively mixed with a hint of confusion.
“Yeah,” he started, “You’re not wondering why you’re sleeping on the floor with no blankets?”
“Figured the bed was deflated. And I get hot when I drink.”
“Let’s get a hooker,” he restated.
“Go back to bed.”
“I haven’t been to bed.”
“Well, go to bed then.”
“I’m getting a hooker,” he said as he walked away. He stumbled to his side and collided with the wall. He’d continued drinking. The next morning when I woke up he had passed out in his kitchen and wet himself. His phone was still in his hand. He had four missed calls from unknown numbers. I woke him up and took a shit. A good, alcoholic shit. My demons exorcised from my asshole. Only a matter of time before they’d be back.
We drove down the road as small drops of rain splashed off the windshield and I occasionally took swigs off a bottle of Vodka I’d brought along with me. It was green everywhere. On both sides of us, behind us, in front of us, encapsulated in a vegetative tank, under a broken sun covered by grey, erring clouds.
We arrived at the castle shortly after leaving. Roddy was hung over and not saying much, possibly ashamed. We listened to a book on tape about how the planet formed. He listened and I ignored. The science behind our history has never appealed to me, only the humanity. The blood, the depravity, the slow cook. A recipe alive and ever-changing.
We paid the entrance fee and took a seat. The woman pouring the wine started us off with the Pinot Grigio. Roddy still had not said but a few words all day. I was already half in the bag. Roddy seemed to savor each wine; each drink had meaning, an appreciation. I simply drank, indifferent to the history or the thought and consideration put into the creation. Roddy would close his eyes as he sipped, swish it around in his mouth. Relishing every last drop with an almost droll salvo.
After the fourth wine he finally said, “Nice body.”
I have no idea what he meant by this.
“What?” I asked.
He didn’t respond. I went outside and smoked a cigarette. A bus full of about twenty people pulled up as the herded themselves out onto the walking path, stampeding toward me. They were all older, considerably, red cheeked, white hair, but contented, happy even. What do they know? I thought. Roddy and I went to 6 other wineries, ate at nice restaurant somewhere in the middle. I had the prime rib. I forget what he had. We didn’t say much. After eight hours, a few sentences, we arrived back at his home. I turned on the TV. A surgeon was performing open heart surgery.
“Hurts, doesn’t it?” I said to the TV.
“What?” Roddy asked overhearing me.
I know how it feels.