Saturday, April 2, 2011


I’m starting to get sick again, but please don’t tell anyone. 

I can feel it the very moment I wake up, and I groan inwardly and try to fall back asleep.  But I can’t.  I never can.  So I slither out of bed, head first onto the floor.  On the floor of the bedroom I notice a crumpled pair of skinny jeans, a pair of Ugg boots, several crushed cans of PBR and an empty bottle of Goldschlager.  Raising my head to look back at the bed I see the bare back of a girl, small and harmless looking.  My diseased memory plugs in the information, and informs me that her name is Candy, and she works at Emporium Galorium, which is the only arcade in town that stays open all year.  I met her last night while I was playing skeeball.  She kept telling me I couldn’t smoke in there, and I kept lighting up.  I was still there at closing time, and she told me I had to leave.  I asked her where she was going. 

“Home.  Bed,” she said, with a coy smile.  

“I have a bed, at my home,” I said.  This was the best pick-up line I could muster in my current state of being, but she is a fucking 25 year old local working at an arcade, so she didn’t need much convincing. 

Now, as I pull on my jeans, I notice a large Star of David tattoo on the flesh on the back of her neck.  I run a finger across the black ink as a test, because I am seized with a sudden terror that she is dead; that at some point during the night, while we were tearing the sheets off the bed, I got too rough and snapped her neck, or suffocated her, or--

She stirs slightly and rolls over to her one side, still asleep.

I dress quietly, and head out of the bedroom.  I have no idea what time it is, and it doesn’t matter because I have the day off.  

I’m out of cigarettes, and this won’t do.  There is a drug store on the corner of my street, but I resolve to not go there, because I had called in a prescription for a refill of my medication over a month ago and have yet to pick it up.  

Throwing on my jacket, I notice a small envelope on the kitchen table.  It has my name written on it in the unmistakable scrawl of Richard, my roommate who lives on the top floor of the house.  My head hurts too much to read anything, so I leave it untouched and I’m out the door and there is a thick fog covering the world.  The ocean is roaring down the block, and the cold salt air makes me stiffen up.  

The song Silver by the Pixies is stuck in my head right now.

I wander to the convenience store at the other end of the street--in the opposite direction of the drug store.  The convenience store is right at the ocean front, and as I exit and tear open my fresh pack of American Spirit cigarettes I can hear loud voices over the screaming ocean.  Even through all this thick fog, I can see a large crowd of people huddled on the beach.  I don’t really care much what they are looking at, but I don’t want to go back home and have to read whatever bullshit Richard has left me; or worse--talk to Candy, so I cross the street onto the beach, sand instantly getting into my shoes.  Seagulls are exploding with laughter over head, and I wonder absently why they don’t fly south for the winter.  

The closer I get to the shoreline, the more people come into view, and then--like a curtain parting on a stage--the fog rolls away enough for me to see what everyone is looking at.  A dead, beached whale lays at the waterfront, its slick black body resembling oil and its mouth agape and  bearing tiny stone-like teeth.  There are several bloody gashes all over the body of the whale, as if something had attacked it.

People are muttering nervously, and I swear to god some of them are even crying, sobbing into their hands or onto the shoulders of their loved ones.  A kid, maybe fifteen, is taking a photo with his cell phone.  A younger kid, maybe five, runs a finger across the corpse before his mother swats his hand away, and he begins bawling uncontrollably, even though it was clearly not that hard of a slap.
An old man smokes a pipe and says, to no one: “Maybe a shark got ‘em.”
Seagulls keep landing on the whale and picking at it, and people keep shooing them away, which causes the gulls to squeal, outraged.
There is a very pretty girl near me, dressed in jogging attire, and silent tears are streaking down her high cheeks as she remains transfixed on the whale.
“It’s so...beautiful...,” she whispers.
My head aches, and I already know that when I go back home the note from Richard will tell me he has moved out and will forward me the rest of his rent, and I already know that Candy will be gone, having stolen all of my bootleg copies of The Wire.
On the foggy beach, someone none of us can see is screaming wildly, their voice hoarse.  A gull pecks at the wide eye of the whale.  Someone laughs softly.  The teenager takes another cell phone pic.
I’m starting to get sick again, but please don’t tell anyone. 

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