On Saturday morning, I wake up feeling just fine and surprisingly horny. I realize I’m not looking for anyone to love anymore: just someone to touch my miserable boner. That’ll be enough. Where my heart used to be, there is now a kind of fine, red, atomized mist.
I read in bed for a while, consider putting Tokyo Torture Chamber 6 in the VCR to jerk off to, but it’s hidden away at the back of the bedroom closet so one girlfriend or other wouldn’t find it. Anyway, I can’t be bothered digging out Tokyo Torture Chamber 6, or maybe it’s Tokyo Torture Chamber 2, whichever one has the scene of a bound Japanese girl getting dunked underwater over and over until she’s gasping and choking and spitting and crying and it all looks pretty real.
What I end up doing instead is jerking myself off to an Internet porn story written by some guy about how he wants to be medically altered into a teenage slave girl by some middle-aged “daddy.” For crissakes, what the fuck is the matter with me? I’ve got to fix this shit immediately. So I take off one of my socks, slip it over my cock, and decide to get my business over with as soon as possible. But instead, I still just sorta leisurely hang out like that for a while, reading and stroking, until I finally decide enough is enough and then boom-boom-boom it’s all over.
It’s still raining: fine, misty, and totally irrelevant.
The day slides on by. Nothing happens.
I wake up at 4AM and the feeling of sadness is the kind you have in a nightmare, but I’m wide awake. I lie there wracked and gasping for a few minutes, like I’m having an orgasm. When I’m done with that, I get up to go the toilet to blow the wad of gummy snot from my nose. Big custardy clots of cold germs. I turn the light on and then I turn it off immediately because it’s unbearable to see the soap dish, the bathroom tiles, the faucets, anything at all. That’s a new one. Then I go back to bed and lie there in the dark, a little awed by what that might mean.
I fall back asleep, drained. I wake up again at six, but it’s really seven because of daylight savings time. I’m actually sickened to think I have an extra hour of daylight to push through from now on. The bird I thought I’d silenced is singing in its cage like it’s gone insane; it’s actually painful to hear it chirping away.
It’s Sunday morning. Then it’s Sunday afternoon. Now it’s almost Sunday evening. That’s pretty much a good description of my day.
I’m exhausted: I feel like I’m drugged out, but I’m not. I’m so lethargic I can barely move.
Later, I go to the Dublin House for a gin-and-tonic. Nothing much is happening there and the drink is small and weak. I take a stroll to the nearby Starbucks and have green tea and read a while. There’s actually more happening in Starbucks than the bar: two used-up women with a third in a wheelchair; a couple of old guys talking about a third guy who just left (he’d had his hand re-attached after a fall through a greenhouse window a few years back); some gawky but sexy jailbait sitting alone clutching her cell phone. I hit the road for home.
I wake up each day to a life that’s, let’s face it, basically over. I get up off the couch where I slept pretty deeply, even without the usual pharmaceutical props. I’m looking in the mirror and I’m thinking, “Oh shit, not you again.” I can almost see the voracious, amoral little worm squirming around at the core of me, at the core of all of us: it’s what keeps us alive.
On the bus this morning, I hear two guys saying it’s supposed to snow a few inches today. Sure enough, it’s a little after 1PM and it’s like a blizzard outside the window. I can hardly see across the street.
I run Cassie’s name on Google; it’s been a week or so since the last time. And shit, it’s pure coincidence, but she’s giving a public presentation for her business at some gay seminar in the West Village tonight. I could pay $8 and sit amongst a bunch of homos and listen to her participate in a panel discussion on same-sex marriages, HIV management, and other such self-justified bullshit. I take down the address and then cross it out, throw away the paper, try to forget, but, of course, I’ve already got it memorized. The blizzard has probably canceled the event anyway, I’m telling myself, but the overpowering urge to go—or even to call her—is unbearable.
Sure enough, at five, I find myself leaving the office and walking as if by remote control toward 13th Street. It’s raining now and the event is probably not canceled, after all. She’s coming from Jersey, though, and maybe she couldn’t make it into the city on the snow-covered roads. These are the thoughts racing through my brain; this is the thinking behind what comes next. Shit, I know it’s wrong to do this, but I can’t help it. It’s a long walk and I’m freezing and the whole time I’m telling myself to forget it, to turn back, but I end up in front of the building: the Gay, Lesbian, Transgender Community Center, something like that. It’s seven. I look inside the lobby. If she’s in there, I have no idea what I’ll do or say. I can’t, after all, reasonably claim that I was just passing by and looked inside this homo building and happened to see her. But I don’t have to worry about it because I don’t see her inside the building; not in the lobby, anyway.
I walk up and down the street, looking into stores, restaurants, and bars in case she stopped somewhere before the presentation. It seems more believable if I can say that I was in the neighborhood and saw her in the window of a shop or something. I’ll say “Hi,” all friendly, carefree, and casual. I’ll give her a business card, tell her to call me for lunch sometime, some bullshit like that.
A couple of times, just for a few seconds, I see someone who could possibly be her and I feel my heart seem to seize up and totally stop and my breath vanish and everything go dead still, like someone hit the pause button on my life. And then it’s not her, and everything resumes, and I realize exactly how fucked up and lost I am. I understand that this idea I have of how I’ll act is not going to work at all; it’ll be a disaster. I’ve got to get out of here. I’ve got to get of here to make certain I don’t see her.
I wander around for nearly half an hour and then I finally force myself to head east. I do this by berating myself mercilessly with every single step, driving myself out of the neighborhood under the whip of an unrelenting internal monologue of self-reproach. The fact that I’m down here at all, I tell myself, wandering around like a fucking jackass, hoping we’ll run into each other: that’s why she’s not with me anymore. Whatever weakness it is that brings me here, that’s what she rejects in me, and I don’t fucking blame her. I hate myself at this moment so thoroughly I’m actually glad that she’s hurt me the way she has: I deserve it. What she’s done will burn everything out of me, destroy everything I ever was, everything I’ve been that I so thoroughly despise and that she despises; or, more likely, it will just end up fucking killing me. Either way, problem solved. I feel such a raw, chemotherapeutic anger sweeping through me at this moment I know I have to be extremely careful. I pass a bum huddling and rocking under a blanket against a building and begging for change and I have an almost overwhelming desire to kick him to death right in the street.
I’m going to be tempted again, I know, to walk back over to the West Side at ten or so, when I figure Cassie should be done with her lecture. The temptation is going to be irresistible, so I decide to get so wasted that I’ll lose track of time, if not completely pass out. What I’m trying to do is overcome an inclination I’ve stifled since she broke up with me, an outburst of emotional violence that has the force and inevitability of an orgasm behind it, and which has been denied for months, until it’s reached the intensity of the homicidal.
I take a Xanax and walk down to the St. Marks bookstore. I feel dangerously drained of the capacity to accept any bullshit from anyone. Then I go around the corner to Bull McCabe’s and have a gin-and-tonic. It’s about 10PM and it’s almost too late to run into Cassie after her lecture and that’s the best I can do…she could still be getting out of the homo center and stopping someplace for a drink or a coffee. I can’t resist. I’ll walk down there after I’m done with this drink…
Just what I was afraid of: that I’m going down there to look for her at the worst possible moment, all fucked up, drunk, and over-medicated. The best I could do was make it so it’s likely she’ll be gone, but just as I knew I would, I’m getting up, I’m obeying fate, and strolling over to the West Village in the freezing rain to say a casual “hello” while tears are streaming down my face.
My plan works out, after all. In spite of myself. I’m so shitfaced, in other words, that I get hopelessly and inconceivably lost. I don’t make it to the Homo Center until eleven. Everything is dark: the whole neighborhood is blacked out. Relieved, I once again start back for the East Village. The icy rain has turned to just ice: hailstones pelt my face. I’m exhausted between the Xanax and the booze, but still walking. I buy a turkey sandwich and a coke at an all-night deli. It’s about midnight now. When I come out onto the streets, a ragged bum asks if he can ask me a question. “No” I scream at him, “no, you can’t fucking ask me anything!” And I suddenly realize what it is about these homeless shits that disgusts us so much: they are all of us stripped down to essentials. Needy, insistent, wheedling, manipulative, phony, they are what we all are, only more straightforward about it. The homeless guy walks off and I explode, shrieking after him as he shuffles up Broadway. I’m screaming at the top of my lungs all the frustration of the whole night, my despair, my anger over being used and degraded by Cassie, by Lola, by everyone, by myself. I don’t care anymore. I don’t even know what I’m screaming, it makes no difference, only that I have nothing more to give.
I go to the Writer’s Room and take more Xanax. I need to not be. I need to die at least for tonight. I really need to be totally absent. I need to not feel anything, not see anything, not hear anything. I need to shut all the doors of perception. And for a few hours, I do. I pass out with my head on a desk.
I wake up, surprisingly, at 4:30, although still groggy, and take a piss. I feel almost pleasantly lethargic, like I could fall dead-asleep in the middle of washing my hands. I remember last night, but it all seems blunted, disconnected. The pain begins but cannot grow beyond a certain point and withers away. I know this pleasant situation won’t last as the drug disappears from my system. I have some stomach cramps.
I end up falling stone-asleep again. I wake up at seven, feeling dull, and I walk fifty blocks or so in the drizzle to my office. It’s probably cold out, but I don’t feel it. And the people I pass, they really all do seem like aliens: impersonal, things, not alive at all, totally irrelevant. Some pretty Asian woman looks at me: I look back at her as if she were a mailbox or a No Parking sign.
Nick Willis is just a guy who hasn’t had all he can take yet, but is damn near chinning up to it. He’s living the maggot life in and around Brooklyn, New York. You can’t find him anywhere and he likes it like that.