Anymore, our situation is reminiscent of a mid-90’s Britpop song. It’s become the haves against the have-nots again, with the one caveat being many of the have-nots — perhaps as a result of a perpetuation of ignorance via our dilapidated educational system — have been boondoggled into joining the haves at their own expense with hopes, I guess, that the little money they pocket might be transubstantiated into gold at the local casino or, failing that, there’s always that Good ol’ American work ethic to fall back on.
There is a responsibility and a joy that comes with living in a place that has a modicum of freedom. At a time in which lines are being drawn in the sand and decades-old regimes are being overturned in pursuit of it, we should perhaps show our solidarity by celebrating ours. This attempt begins in an unfortunate manner years ago: One afternoon I awoke to find an unsealed package addressed to myself sitting on the stoop.
I stared at the clock. It meant little to me, only that there wasn’t much time left. Dave was asleep. Or dead. I didn’t care which. It seemed immaterial. It was immaterial. So, I propped my elbows back up on the windowsill and watched the spaceships attempt to complete their circle overhead. It was dark now. I got up to use the bathroom.
I’m up shit creek with a full complement of paddles, but only one arm with which to row: two days before deadline, three days removed from shoulder surgery, lost in a haze of Oxycodone while wearing a space-age sling and stockings sans garters for anti-embolism purposes.
I had just sat down for Thanksgiving dinner when my phone rang. It was my sister, but I couldn't understand her. "Take a breath," I implored. After doing so, she cried, "Mark, Mom's dead! She didn't come out of her room this afternoon and Arlene broke down her door and found her face down on the floor! Oh God, Mark..."
I wasn’t supposed to be kissing my stepsister. No, it was supposed to be one of her friends, The Twins. Which one I wasn’t sure, but, no matter, she chickened out and my stepsister suggested herself as a replacement. Thus, we lay in the basement making out, my head swimming with the absurdity of it all.
The irony wasn’t lost on me: Mere weeks following my debut in these pages, the alternate title to which might have been “In Defense of Suicide,” I almost died by my own hand. The little I do remember has me in front of a wooden door with two rectangle panes of glass, poised to throw a punch, thinking you’ve broke your hand twice, try something different. Thus, the glass.
There's an ambulance with active siren ramming into the sides of my skull while a sunburnt diver stands ready but unable to leap from the sand trap that is my tongue. We know each other all too well. I flop out of bed while groaning. Walk to the front room, where I grab a rope that dangles from the rafters, toss it loosely over my head and then kick the chair out from under myself.