Monday, November 10, 2008

Drunk Tank

The crust rubs from my eyes and I crumble it to the floor like a clump of granola. My mouth tastes sour, gummy saliva. I roll around from my back to my side to my belly to my other side. No matter how I lay, I’m thirsty as hell and really have to pee. I wonder why these problems don’t cancel each other out. Then I push myself into a kneel, eyes still closed.

And when finally I peel the lids apart and look around, I want to lay right down again. Me on a smooth, cold, concrete floor. A drain right smack in its center. Cinderblock walls dimpled where people have tried to carve initials. Or punched over and over. A deep sink and a rusty faucet. And of course, the bars. So I cup my hands and slurp from the sink. So I piss into the drain and it leaves me winded. Then I collapse back to the ground. And I try to sleep. Hope to wake someplace other.

But nothing. I crawl to the cell’s corner and prop myself against the wall. I cough hard and deep and feel like something’s about to come up and nothing does and I try to spit toward the drain but mostly it runs down my chin and my neck. Must have had a massive night.

The air was cold and sharp and even though there wasn’t anything in the way of a breeze, I ran so fast my hair blew wild behind. Whatever they spoke of, now it was so far back. And now even further. And now further. Sucking wind but still not about to slow down. Did I tip enough? When will they look for me? Will they look for me? Further.

So at the stoplight I stopped. Not because I had to, I was on foot. Not because I was tired, though a tightness gripped my chest and soon weaseled outward. Why I let up there, the sunburst of traffic light grabbed me. Needed inspection. Like a red, glowing sea urchin reaching out to puncture. Some crazy stuff. And I huffed hard and saw my breath float before my face and swatted it and only tired myself further. Then, when the burning in my lungs became a sinking in my stomach, I leaned down and puked on the candy-apple red hood of a parked car. Chicken wings and liquor and stomach acid.

For a second I stood. Cocked my head and looked at the lumpy mess. Like pink oatmeal with brown curds. Something like that. Then with my finger I swirled it around, spread it out. Like a big sunburst, like a sea urchin. Something like that. And the paint, it was eaten away. Beneath was dull metal and nothing more. I sunk down against the car. Tried to recuperate, find my bearings, rest. And maybe I slept some, I can’t recall. But next I knew, a police officer was hustling me to the back of a squad car.

“My problem is this: every time I shit, I masturbate. Because, you know, I’m just sitting there and I’m bored.” This was what I had to listen to. This was an interesting conversation. So I flagged the bartender, I ordered another drink. “Dude, ever heard of reading?” Another friend asked. “Okay, okay. But check this out man. I think I’ve trained myself into a fecal fetish. Like, I’ve done this so many times that now, turds get me horny.” And this was an interesting conversation. So I drank.

“Get this dude,” one of my friends, it matters not which, said this. “How come when something is child proof, it means a child can’t do it. But when something is fool proof, it means even a fool can do it?” All sorts of intellectual musings. So I drank. This was what I looked forward to all week. At my desk. With my reports and my coffee breaks. The thought of Friday night. This was it.

So I drank. And when someone, it doesn’t matter who, when someone asked me what I was thinking, all I said was, “I gotta run.” Not like a euphemism, I just had to. So I chucked a fistful of ones onto the bar, a tip. And I walked into a jog into a sprint and out the door. And my friends’ eyes, they burned holes in the back of my head. Blistering, hot, warm holes. Just holes.


Leroy J. Powers said...


Steffie said...

I really enjoy your stories. I look forward to them and they make the part of the day I spend reading them inexplicably better. Thanks.