And so, my little mind ranted and raved for the next hour or so. Churning the facts. Looking for clues. Reviewing my entire relationship with Nancy. And finding nothing. And then, there was a knock upon my door. Sweet, sweet Ann, come to rescue me from my woes. At least so I hoped when I got up to answer. Then I realized it was probably just room service.
Nope. It was her. Looking as gorgeous, fuckable, and frustration-inducing as ever (That would mean it’s Ann not room service, just in case you’re even slower than I thought). Anyway, she said that she had realized that she needed a bunch of stuff from the drugstore for tomorrow morning. Stuff that wasn’t already provided in her room. I told her there was a store open in the lobby but she insisted that she needed to go out to a real drugstore. Outside. In the big city. And needed strong, scary me to fend off any potential bad guys. I thought about telling her I couldn’t because I was expecting a phone call. But I guess I wasn’t. If Nancy even called back, it would be to My Mom’s, not here. I guess I was going to the drugstore.
Which is when you realize how New York really is different. In New York it’s a matter of walking down the block anytime day or night to get what you need. Here in the Great Waste Bin of America, nothing was open past nine. If that. I don’t get it. How can the rest of the country be so fucked up like that? Even in Chicago?
However, even in the hinterlands, the concept of the 24 hour drugstore had caught on a little. It was just a matter of finding one. Somewhere. Out there. Nothing like thinking to check the Yellow Pages or asking at the Hotel Desk until twenty minutes later. When you’re freezing your ass off. And standing in front of yet another closed location.
At least Ann felt guilty. I say “at least” because that would score me at least some points in the “He’s-not-just-a-pig-trying-to-get-down-my-pants” column. Of course, I probably am exactly that, just because I thought of it that way. Oh, well.
And then we finally find an open drug store. Ironically, it wasn’t all that far from the hotel. If we had just gone right at a certain block instead of left, we would have been there in ten minutes. And if I was furry and had wings I would be a flying monkey. Or something. In any case, we went the longest possible, most out-of-the-way way. When we finally found it, I think a smile might have actually come over my face.
I have to say, I kind of like drug stores. Especially big ones like this one was. Something about the glaring fluorescent lights and all the packaged goods lining the shelves. Just visually very interesting. It’s really too bad the check out clerks seem to require a lobotomy before being given their jobs. I have yet to go into a chain drugstore where I didn’t spend far longer in line than I did actually getting all my stuff. Speaking of getting my stuff – Ann (where’s that snare drum when you need it?).
Another gut-wrenching moment of truth came shortly after we left the drugstore (not literally, I’m happy to say. Things had calmed down a lot on that front). It didn’t take very long to walk back compared to the never ending journey there. And soon we were back at our lovely hotel. Ann and I stood in the hallway between our two rooms. Each holding our little plastic white bags. Each feeling really awkward. She thanked me for going out with her into the cold. She also thanked me for such a great day. And then she said “good-night” and closed the door behind her.
GOD DAMN IT! This was driving me nuts. I just stood in the hallway and stared at the door. Her door. That had just shut in my face. Well, not in my face, exactly. Figuratively speaking, more like slammed on my balls. Again. And again. And again. Why did I do this to myself? Why did I always put myself in these terrible situations? Why? Why? Why?
I stood there trying to think of any possible options other than simply resigning myself to such a wretched fate. I could knock on her door and ask her into my room for a drink. Not gonna work. I could knock on her door and ask her to go out to a bar with me for a drink. Also not going to work. I could knock on her door. Push my way through. Hurl her down on the bed. And, and…Sounds appealing at the moment but I kind of don’t think that’s a real good choice either. I’ve got it. The perfect solution! I could just stand here in the hallway all night, clutching my little white plastic bag of shit, looking like a fucking retard! Yeah, I’ll do that one!
And anger and frustration begot more anger and frustration. Which led to total rage. And hatred for this cruel joke that was my life. I wasn’t even sure what I was angry about. It ALL sucked. Ann. Nancy. Dying. Thomas. Dying. Wait, I said that one. Whatever. I don’t care. It all should be repeated over and over again. I had tried. I had tried to turn something really, really shitty into something positive. I mean, come on…I had turned a rare genetic disease into the motivating factor for this whole literary masterpiece you’re reading. And it still sucked. No, not the book. Fuck you! Life. My Life. It just sucked. And no matter how hard I tried there didn’t seem to be anything I could do about it.
You tell me. What were my options? Wait for the disease to strike and spend the rest of my days in incredible pain sitting in some foul smelling hospital room waiting to die or what? This? Yeah, this was going real well. I had gotten fired. Was on the run from the police. Had had a series of, essentially, meaningless little sex romps. Still farted more than a barnyard animal. Was tortured by my family. Found a girl I really liked. And really thought sleeping with might mean something with. And got shut down. Shut down, big. Totally reminded that even with a carefree “we could die tomorrow” attitude (or a few months from now, as the case may have it), huge expense account, and the God Damn Freedom to do anything that I pretty much wanted…And it didn’t matter. It was still the same as it always had been. And did I mention I was going to die soon?
Think about it. Think just for one second how absolutely, positively pissed-off you would be if you were told that all those dreams you had for your life weren’t ever gonna happen. You literally had half the life-span of all the other assholes in the world. And half of that half would be spent in Madison, Wisconsin with your family, for that matter. Talk about a waste of precious time. I mean, not that my family was a waste. They were good people. But the idea that I had wasted 17 of my 35 precious years just sitting around Madison, Wisconsin surrounded by The Bovine Herd was a little bit tough to swallow. Something which I would never have the chance to even find out if Ann did, from the looks of things! What, I just squander whatever sympathy I was starting to get from you? Like you really give a shit anyway. Who are you kidding?
And then there’s Nancy. Nancy who I felt so close to. Nancy who I thought I even loved. Who just picked up. Moved. And fell off the face of the fucking earth. I mean San Francisco is pretty much off the face of the earth but come on! They don’t have e-mail out there?! They don’t have phones? Pretty damn clear to me that I didn’t mean crap to her when it came down to it. I guess it really was out of sight, out of mind with her.
And on those ever-so-rare occasions when she did e-mail or call what did I get? Sure, she was great at listening to me whine and complain and all that. And I appreciate that. I really do. I know how hard it is to constantly put up with that. And I am amazed that she does. But why is it so much of a one-way street? How come when I ask her what’s going on with her, what’s really going on with her inside, I get stories about Jazz Clubs or the Redwood National Forest or something. It’s always so superficial. She tells me nothing. Nothing. I trust her with my most embarrassing, personal thoughts and what do I get in return? Stories about the seals at Fisherman’s Wharf. What the fuck? I ask you again. WHAT-THE-FUCK?!
Needless to say, I didn’t sleep much. At all, actually. I spent hours just sitting in a chair staring at Chicago. And hours more, after my back and knees started to hurt, lying up in bed just letting the furious ramble of thoughts and fears shoot through my brain. It felt like I was under attack. Unable to stop myself from being sucked down into a world I just wanted to pretend wasn’t really there. A world I knew, all too well, was closer to the realities I didn’t want to face.
What? Too heavy for you? Am I harshing your buzz, Dude? Bringin’ ya’ down? Fine. I’ll stop. I can’t afford to lose you. You’re all I have. Yeah, you, Dear Reader. You are it. My only hope. The only one I really have to talk to about all this. In spite of all the mean things I might say to you. I need you. So, I’ll do it. I’ll give you whatever you need to keep you interested. To keep you turning those pages. Just stay with me. Please. Just stay with me.
So, she stood there totally naked. Her graceful curves glowing in the moonlight. She reached out her hand and grabbed my belt as we kissed. I felt the warmth of her…What? No, I was just trying to keep you entertained. I know you would much rather hear about sex than to my depressing ramblings. I don’t blame you. I would be exactly the same way. Then again. Maybe you’re more mature than me and don’t need such sensationalistic stimulation. Yeah right.
Anyway, back to our real story. The one about my favorite subject in the entire world, ME. I’m still here. Still wide awake in the hotel room. Not naked but feeling very, very much alone. Even though I am exhausted. I can’t sleep one bit. Usually, I manage to at least grab a couple of hours starting somewhere between five or six in the morning and whenever I have to get up. But not this time. This was truly not sleeping a wink. To which there was one bright side. I got to see the sun come up.
It was pretty amazing. The air was really crisp in that special winter way. Everything was razor sharp. And clear. So clear. Kind of like Los Angeles when it finally rains after a dry spell and all the pollution and shit-colored haze is washed from the sky for a little while. Anyway, after watching the sunrise, I gave up even pretending I might sleep at all. So, I went for a walk.
And it was really pretty vicious out. They don’t call it “The Windy City” for no reason. The wind was whipping right off the lake. And it was fucking cold. Cold enough to hurt. It was still fall, technically, and I was, stupidly, dressed for fall. You know, leather jacket, sweater, that sort of thing. I think a down coat, scarf, and one of those terrorist masks that covers your whole face would have been a bit more appropriate. Oh, well. What are you gonna do? Well, other than piss and moan a lot about it, of course.
It actually got better the further I got away from the lake. I walked up State Street and admired the great skyscrapers along it. Chicago really is, aesthetically, a real charmer. A dull place to actually live, though, I would guess. Far closer to the rest of the Bovine Nation in both pace and attitude than either New York or Los Angeles. Which was really a shame, when it came down to it.
I then realized that I was starving. Cold, tired and hungry. Could one person be a “huddled mass?” Oh wait, the Statue of Liberty is “tired, POOR, and hungry.” Well, two out of three ain’t bad. Like I was saying. I was really, really hungry. And, as had proven the case with the drug store, finding something open was more than a wee bit challenging. It was early morning on a Sunday. And in “God’s Country” out here, that meant shit was closed. Wouldn’t you think places really needed to be open on weekends when people weren’t at work? Not that this was an issue for me lately, but still. I worked before. I did. I even got regular pay checks and everything. Big ones. For a little while. After I left Los Angeles and before I got fired. Fucking Shit-Eater.
So, I walked and soon went from enjoying it to really feeling cold and feeling sick to my stomach because I needed food. And low and behold. I found a diner open. A rather kitchy, fake-fifties chrome thing complete with stupid, period uniforms for the wait staff. It didn’t matter. It was food and I was damn happy it was there.
Being that I didn’t have to worry about cholesterol or any other long-term medical issues, I ordered “The Farmer’s Special.” Three eggs. A slab, and I mean slab, of ham. Bacon. Sausage. Hash browns. Toast. And coffee. And I have to tell you, I honestly don’t think I’ve ever had a meal that tasted so good.
By the time I got back to my room I was cold again, but otherwise feeling much better. Physically and otherwise, things were a great deal improved over their state just two short hours ago. The power of pork. And eggs. And lots and lots of coffee. I guess they don’t call it “comfort food” for nothing.
I realized that it was still damn early in the morning and that Ann was probably still asleep. In bed. Clothed. And without me. So much for feeling better. I needed a shower. Not a cold one to rid myself of Ann thoughts but a nice, long hot one to warm up after my little Arctic expedition.
I stepped into the bathroom and took my clothes off. I found myself staring at my naked body in the huge mirror. It wasn’t a sex thing. First of all, like I told you earlier, I’m usually the one asking to turn off the lights. So, it’s not like I was admiring myself. No, it was more just the idea of what a body was. The shell that carried you around. This collection of cells dying and being reborn until they just decided they had enough and they stopped regenerating. Or some strange fucking mutation occurred. Or virus. Or genetically inherited death cells. Or who the hell was at my door?
I throw my clothes back on and open it to find Ann staring at me all wet-haired and lovely. She’s concerned she woke me, but seems really excited and happy. After some very quick small talk, she tells me she really wants to order room service and have breakfast in her room. And she invites me to join her. She thinks her room is great and doesn’t ever want to leave. Which would normally prompt me to make some sex joke or at least think them to myself. But I was still feeling a bit too depressed. Anyway, I tell her to order me some coffee and croissants. And that I’ll be over after she takes a shower with me. I mean, after I take a shower.
Wouldn’t you know it, of all the times room service has to be really quick, it had to be this one. I take my shower and go over to Ann’s room. She opens it and lets me in. The food is already there. On the desk. Untouched. She tells me it’s been there for about fifteen minutes already but she waited for me before eating. Very polite of her, but I was going to feel pretty crappy if her wonderful breakfast experience consisted of ice-cold eggs and tepid coffee. I guess it was lucky for me that Ann ate healthy and ordered yogurt, muffins and juice. Speaking of healthy muffins. She was looking really rather tasty herself.
She told me again how much she loved her room. And thanked me for suggesting the hotel. Not for paying for it. Because she still intended to pay me back for it even though it was on my credit card. I thought about asking her to just work it off in some other way. Some naked way. But I wasn’t really up to it. So to speak. Per se. Instead, I just agreed with her that the hotel was great. And that the view of the lake was terrific. Which it was, actually, now that it was daylight and you could actually see it.
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