Thursday, March 10, 2011

Diseased

A (kind of) short story from Olivia:

I wouldn’t be on this bus headed to a “sanctuary of healing” in northern Washington, probably the closest I’ll ever get to Canada or the dreams I had aspired towards, if I hadn’t run over Cecil’s cat. It’s not like the cat was the brightest or most useful thing, obviously not bright since it was hanging out at the end of my driveway. What a stupid cat.

We pass a sign; Canada 153 miles. Canada, I once figured I’d be going to college up there, thought I might major in the arts at UBC. It’s a nice campus, my Mom and Dad took us all up there to look at it; this was when I was seventeen. I was pretty bright then, I just hide it now, no one appreciates a genius these days. I close my eyes, I guess we have another hour before arriving at “camp-heal-yourself,” but all I can dream about is that damn cat and how it screwed me over.

I had been running late for work, my alarm didn’t go off, or I slept through it, I don’t know, either way I was late for work. I was running around my house trying to find my other heel, it was this cute black knock-off Steve Madden one, but I couldn’t find it so then I had to change my outfit, because I was going to have to wear these little black flats, and my pants were too long for flats. I was digging around for my ‘Marbs in my purse when I pulled out my heel, literally the heel. I couldn’t find the shoe, maybe I could have glued them together, but then I remembered I threw it away in the garbage can outside of Louise’s, pissed off and drunk. Damn Raspberry turn-overs, Captain (don’t know why his name is Captain, never asked) makes them too strong, says he calls them turn-overs because there’s so much alcohol in that tiny little shot, it’ll make your stomach turn instantly. I wonder why he doesn’t call them black-outs.

Around 8:00 a.m. my bagel was done, and I took a few painkillers to make the day easier and downed my Mimosa, the smell of my bagel made me want to puke, I chucked it out into the yard, I figured something would eat it. By the time I was in my car it was 8:20, I had ten minutes to get to work, but it usually took me about twenty. I was so late. I backed out and felt my car hit some speed bump at the end of my driveway. Now I was pissed, my coffee had spilt all over my cup holders; they were going to be sticky.

Then I saw it, this fuzzy clump with its intestines oozing out of its butt lying perfectly stiff and dead in my driveway. Fuck. I had just run over Ernest Hemingway. Not the human, the cat. Cecil was going to kill me.

I jumped out of my car and got a garbage bag and some garden gloves from the garage. The cat didn’t even stink yet. Its eyes were all rolled back into his head and his tongue stuck out making the famous Hemingway look slightly retarded. I looked over at Cecil’s house and scooped Ernest-the-bloody into the bag. I ran to the hose and sprayed off the mess then tiptoed across the lawn to Cecil’s and plopped the bag on the doorstep. I thought about maybe just shoving it in the trash, but I felt Ernest deserved a better burial.

That was a terrible mistake, I should have just thrown Ernest into the trashcan, then I wouldn’t be on this bus, and Cecil would have just thought the cat ran away and would still let me live in his guest house so I’d have a place to come back to after rehab. I despise my brother and his stupid cat.

I made it to work late, like I had anticipated. I was rather pissed off at Cecil; he should have watched his cat better. I worked as an administrative assistant at Master Trade Co. mostly doing data entry and copying files. My job was boring. I don’t work there anymore, I was forced to quit, but that’s not Cecil’s fault that was someone else’s.

Danielle came to my cubicle, she was glued to her headset, the only thing louder than her voice was her boots. I could hear them across the office, clack, clacking all the way over to my desk. She pulled a lacey red thong out of her pocket and dangled it in front of my face. Danielle was my drinking buddy on weekends, but she knew I liked to go out on weeknights too. She threw the undergarment onto my keyboard, I saw this lacey thing lying across it and then I recognized the thong, like a mother recognizes her baby after years of separation. I wasn’t separated from the thong for years, just days. It was my favorite though; red drives men wild. She tapped my desk drawer, explained to me how she didn’t have a pen (she suspected Dana in marketing to be stealing them) and how I was the only kind and generous person in this office that would give her a pen, so she knew I wouldn’t mind if she went through my drawers for one and so that’s what she was doing when she found “Sexies” in the drawer. She finished her story with a sneaky little I-know-what-you’re-up-to smile. What I was up to? Sonny, my fuck-buddy. I had a lot of buddies at work.

I had been with Sonny for three years; I’d only been working at Master Trade Co. for two years, it wasn’t until he hired me that I found out he was married. We were working overtime in his office when I saw the picture of his family. I stared at his wife and kids while I fucked their loving husband and father. Sonny was a hairless, cheating, lying bastard. I despised him, but that’s what fueled my lust for him. I am so sick and perverse. I drew pictures of him dying extravagant deaths on my post-its. I had a whole drawer of these little flip books. That morning, Sonny’s wife came in, they were in his office for their usual time; fifteen minutes. That’s about as long as he lasted. Sonny told me she was his therapist. I guess he really needed that therapy, sex therapy that is. He was an idiot; he didn’t think I knew he was married, even though he called me her name sometimes during sex, Jeanine.

We stop on the side of the road, and most everyone on the bus jumps off for a smoke, even the driver. People who can appreciate a proper drink are the only ones who can appreciate the sweet relief of sucking the life out of a cancer stick. After all we’re the ones that do it most often. A cigarette with every drink. That will be my new saying. That has some class. I wonder what made others get on this bus, or more specifically who made them get on this bus. My family forced me onto it, my family and Danielle. I can’t imagine anyone willingly subjecting themselves to being called “diseased” and wanting to “learn how to cope” with it. My life is fine. My life was fine.

Danielle conspired with my family to get me on this bus just because I slept with her Fiancé. We had all gone out drinking, it was his first time coming out with us and my first time meeting him. I wasn’t a slut, I just liked to party. The night was going fine, we went out to Grizzly’s then stopped at Louise’s, hopped over to The Q, then made our way over to Vibe, it was this new dance club that had just opened. I had gone straight to the bar; I was already one too many drinks in. Danielle and her fiancé were dancing on the floor. What a nerd, he was flailing his arms around awkwardly and swaying his hips in this stiff rocking motion. It looked like he was humping the air, but what guy didn’t? The guy next to me must have mistaken my legs for the word of the day, because he asked if I wanted to go back to his place and spread the word. I declined, but for his pathetic effort told him he could buy me a drink. I walked him to his car only ten minutes later, as he drove off, I returned to the club with his wallet. Drinks were on him that night.

Danielle was on this pole freaking with it and some other girl. I wasn’t that kind of drunk. Everyone in that club was drunk or on some sort of high. I don’t even remember the guy’s name, Danielle’s fiancé. So I’ll call him Bob. I bought him a drink. Actually the guy I met earlier bought him a drink. It was hard to hear, and Bob was trying to have a conversation. I hated small talk. I especially hated it in bars. I took my ‘Marbs out to let him know I was ending the conversation for a smoke. But Bob didn’t get it. He followed me, because like most men, Bob was stupid. He bummed a cigarette and then leaned against the wall, I could tell he was pretty drunk. He wanted to talk about philosophy. Philosophy for Christ Sake; that’s the worst, someone who wants to sound intelligent and intellectual by discussing a whole bunch of hypothetical situations, as if they have some merit to them. I hate philosophy. I sucked the life from my cigarette just a little bit faster.

Danielle saved me from his philosophy, or whatever it was that he was babbling about. She charged out of the club, barefoot and a mess, sweaty and hanging out. She was fired up. I swear Danielle was like the energizer bunny, with this radioactive electric glow that made her just keep going and going and going. She saw Bob smoking, punched him in the nuts and sprinted across the street. “Come on Pussies! Let’s go to Club Z and get this party started!” God she was so loud. Bob was hunched over puking all over himself. The smell, made me want to shove my cigarette up my nose. What the hell did he have for dinner? Danielle screamed something along the lines of “What the Heck? Go home Boob!” She had already caught up with another crowd walking down to the next neon lights that said “open.” I was usually with her. I should have been with her, but Bob, shit-head Bob was so pathetic, he needed someone to get him home. I put my cigarette out on some chick’s purse and dragged Bob to the car. I could barely see straight. I had to drive.

When I pulled up to their driveway he was still whining about how he didn’t know, but really did know, but didn’t want to know if Danielle was cheating. I leaned over him to open his door to get him the fuck out of my car, when he grabbed my chin forcefully and jammed his tongue down my throat. I tasted his regurgitated dinner and alcohol in the back of my mouth. I pushed him away but his lips felt like Jerome’s, my ex-fiancé, the only guy that could make me feel like shit. I wanted more, and I got more. He called me Danielle when he came. Then he got out of my car and puked all over his driveway. I had one cigarette left. I thought about driving off a cliff, or going head on into another vehicle on the freeway. Or electrocuting myself in the bathtub, I had the perfect thing to do it, this old eighties boom box that sparked when I plugged it in with no water included. It would only be right to have the only things I ever loved at my deathbed, my trusty boom box, my ‘Marbs, and of course my vodka, McCormick’s, he was always there for me. I blacked out after another two bottles of wine. I woke up in my lawn chair on the sidewalk in front of Cecil’s house, with some Hispanic Reggaeton playing.

Danielle didn’t know about what happened that night for some time. The day she found out, I didn’t see her at work. I thought she was sick or running late, but an hour after I arrived she came out of Sonny’s office. She knocked my stuff off my desk while passing me. What a bitch. When I was picking it up, Sonny called me into his office.

“You have to quit.” He shoved a resignation paper at me. I imagined him falling out the overly huge and grotesque windows in his office, falling and cracking his neck on the pavement. Snap! With the crack of his neck the image went away. I remembered I didn’t take painkillers that morning.

“Fuck you Sonny, what makes you think you can make me quit!” I tapped the cigarettes inside of my pocket. I was furious.

“You have to, if you don’t I will fire you, but I care about you baby, so I won’t. You have to quit.” He tried to take my hand. Don’t call me baby, is all I wanted to
say, don’t call me baby. No words left my mouth.

“Listen, Danielle knows that we’ve been you know, rendezvousing. She is going to tell my uh, my therapist.” What a laugh. His therapist.

“You mean your wife.” I signed the paper. I didn’t like the job anyways. I lit a cigarette in my cubicle and tossed everything into my bag, took as much of the office stuff as I could, the fire alarm went off. Then the sprinklers. Sonny came out screaming, he was probably upset about the wife comment, “I’m going to write down you were always drunk! That you drank on the job! You’ll never get a job now!” I flipped him the bird, it was the most liberating feeling I’ve had in a long time.

This lady sits next to me on the bus. She smells like some kind of cheap perfume, something by Britney Spears or one of those media-whore pop singers. She offers me some gum, she seems alright, but I don’t want friends, I just want to get this over with. I have a life to get back home to; I’ve got people to be angry with. This lady tells me, she forgets things, that she almost forgot to get on the bus, or that she almost forgot to pick up her kid at school, or that she almost forgot to cook the turkey on Thanksgiving. I want to slap her, there’s a difference between almost forgetting and forgetting. She wouldn’t notice the difference, because she hasn’t forgot, at least not something important.

When I had reached my car, I was sopping, and had been called an “idiot” four times on my journey to my car for smoking and setting the sprinklers off. My car had “SLUT” written in lipstick across my windshield. Lipstick smears. Windshield wiper fluid does not remove it either. Thanks Danielle.

I went to a park with a flask of McCormick’s and sat on the swings. A drink for every person that ruined my life, Danielle, Sonny, Cecil, Mom, Dad, Ashley, Don from fifth grade, Ernest Hemingway the cat, Teresa Black for pantsing me in seventh grade, Taylor Black for tattling on me every day, Jerome Gerraldi for breaking off the engagement because of my drinking. I finished the flask before I could even get through all the people that had caused me pain. I had another one in my jacket pocket. I drank because it made me feel better, I drank because it made me forget, a different kind of forgetting though, the kind that numbs you from your core out. The only welcome feeling I wanted, needed, was the feeling of weightlessness, being able to walk around and feel so heavy while at the same time feel as if I were floating, just gliding along my everyday life. This was why I drank. I would give anything up for that feeling.

On my way home I drove past some kids in the park, I leaned out and yelled as loud as I could, “Get a job Mother-fuckers!” They were in fourth grade. I landed myself on my doorstep, with a glass of wine and a grilled cheese. I was staring at my toes, staring until they looked disfigured and I hated them. Cecil came across the lawn and sat next to me. I hated Cecil. He was twenty-eight and still dressed like he was twenty. He thought he was so cool when we were growing up. I can’t believe I ever admired him. Cecil was a mouth breather.

“What are you doing over here?” My toes start to curl in and they start to look a little bit more deformed.

“I wanted to talk to you.”

“Don’t you have a cat to confide in?” Oh yeah, I had killed it.

“No,” Cecil was choking up. Damn, I killed his cat.

“What happened to the great Mr. Hemingway?”

“He was brutally murdered and shoved into a garbage bag with my gardening gloves.” I could feel Cecil’s eyes boring a deep spear of fire through my chest, willing me to crumble up on my doorstep and wither into nothing. My toes looked deformed.
“Imagine that…that is just, just so sad. I’m s¬¬¬--- "

“Save it. I know it was you, you left the garden gloves in the bag, which came from my garage!”

“So that’s what you want to talk about. You are delusional Cecil! I didn’t kill your fucking cat. I just found him and put him in a bag, I didn’t know what else to do, I was late for work.”

“Bullshit Kat! Bull-fucking-shit! You think you’re the only one with eyes, you think you’re the only one who sees through people? Guess what Kat; I know you did it because Ernest is ground into your tires and the driveway! Yeah, I checked it out, not at first, because I thought ‘Gee it couldn’t be Kat, she wouldn’t do such a thing, she’s changed, she’s more responsible now, she goes to AA!’” Cecil was talking through his teeth. When we were younger, he would follow up his teeth-talking with a punch to the face. But we’re older now.

“C, I didn’t kill your cat. You always blame me for the most ridiculous things,” I stood up and tried gaining my balance, “You think I’m always lying, always doing something irresponsible! Just because you haven’t gotten laid in like…forever—does not mean I killed your cat. Go take your sexual frustration somewhere else!” I grabbed my wine, but Cecil knocked it out of my hands.

“You’re drunk! Unbelievable.” He stomped across the yard shouting, “AA my ass!”

It wasn’t until Thanksgiving dinner when Cecil did the toast that he forgave me for killing Ernest. His toast went something like this; “It is not often that we get to see each other in our busy lives. But today is a special occasion and of course we must all be here for that, we are truly blessed to all be at this table in good health and good fortune, feasting on this bountiful meal! Oh and I’m so grateful…well I think we all are grateful that Katherine finally showed up to a family event. Not drunk.”

Cecil is a comedian now?

“ And oh, before we cheer, I also want you to know, I forgive you, Katherine, for killing my cat. If only Mr. Hemingway were here today.” He looks up to the ceiling as if his dumb cat is looking down on him.

“Cheers.”

Who did Cecil think he was? Moses? I could not believe my family cheered to that. This was when Ashley took the opportunity to stand up and also forgive me, “I also forgive Katherine for accidentally leaving my daughter at the store.” Uncalled for. My parents nodded. Dad asked if anyone else wanted to forgive me. No one spoke. I imagined Cecil and Ashley choking on their turkey and cranberries, then face planting into their food.

When I left Georgia at the store, I had been drinking. The day had been fine, I picked Georgia up from school we went to Ming for Chinese food, their food is amazing and cheap, the only place I’ll ever take anyone for lunch, I can’t risk good money on bad food. Ming was a sure bet. Georgia reminded me that her mom, who also happens to be my irritatingly perfect sister, asked me to pick up some dog food for their perfect family pet, their golden retriever. Things were okay then, I had been going to AA meetings, well I went to two, but my sister trusted me with her kid. I felt like this would get her off my back.

Georgia wandered off in the store. I didn’t forget about her, I just had too many things on my mind. So I checked out and I left. I got to my house and saw the dog food in my rear view mirror. Shit. I had left Georgia at the store. I thought of excuses the whole way back to the store. When I got there she was gone. I searched the isles, I looked between the isles, I asked employees even. Until someone told me her mom had come to get her. I drank vodka out of a water bottle on my way back home. I stuck a pack of gum in my mouth and chewed until my jaw felt like it was going to fall off. Ashley couldn’t know that I had been drinking. She knew though. Georgia told her. It wasn’t until two years later at Thanksgiving dinner that she forgave me. Ashley should have picked her kid up from school. She was so irresponsible sometimes.

The bus winds up this long dirt driveway, with willows along the side. The lady next to me tells me she used to have a willow in her yard. What the hell do I care? I smile and tell her how wonderful that must have been. We approach this extravagant sign that says, “Nature’s Healing Facility.” Welcome to camp-heal-yourself where your loved ones send you to become “cured.” But I don’t have a disease, and it’s not my fault I am here.

I get off the bus and light a cigarette while I watch everybody unload their bags from the bus, ah the sweet, sweet taste of cancer. The lady I was sitting next to on the bus, glares at me, like I’m doing something wrong. Fuck you lady, go hump your fucking willow tree. Someone else can get my bag, they have a whole bunch of people in “Nature’s Healing Facility” shirts, why aren’t they carrying our bags? Stupid plump, umpa lumpas, shaking everyone’s hand in their stuck up polo’s. All these smiley bitches telling everyone carrying their bags in, “Welcome, this program will change your life, it changed mine!” The only thing that changed in their lives was their pant size, probably resorted to withdrawal eating, until they were bloated enough to be on the set of Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. Fuck!

I see out of the corner of my eye this one guy watching me, he’s been staring at me since I got off the bus. I glance at him. He’s not too bad, he kind of looks like what I imagine a much younger Sonny would look like with hair. I decide he’s going to be my new fuck-buddy, I got to keep myself busy somehow in this god-forsaken fort from hell. My new fuck-buddy comes over, I assume he wants to talk. God, men are so predictable, it’s disgusting.

“Hey.” Hey? Really that’s the best he can come up with? No sleazy pick-up lines? Maybe he’s not my new fuck-buddy.

“Hey.” I just want him to go away now, what a fucking creep.

“So I noticed you’re not getting your bag and taking it in like everybody else, you too cool?”

“Excuse me? What the fuck is your deal man?”

“Well my fucking deal is you’re just like every single person that comes to this place.”

“I’m not fucking low-life scum, I don’t suck crack dick, asshole.”

“Oh, but you don’t get it, you are. You are just like every single person that comes in here, think you’re going to beat the system huh? Play it cool, pretend like you’re healed then walk on out of those doors and first thing you do is take a drink, smoke some rock, snort some coca cola, and you’re going to be fine? It’ll all be behind you, just another day blurred in with the rest of your memories?” Fuck you man! I want to punch him in the face, instead I exhale my smoke into his ugly mug. He smiles. I am such a snake charmer.

“Wow, you just really think you are something don’t you?”

“Why wouldn’t I be?”

“Cause you’re not. And I bet you a carton of cigarettes a week, you’re not going to make it through this program, you’re not strong enough. You’re just going to go right back out onto the streets and continue drinking your life away, shooting up, sucking crack dick, whatever it is you got to do to get your fix. Until one day, you’re just gone. And nobody knows, and nobody cares. Nobody, I mean nobody will give two shits about you not being here. It’s not like they even give a shit about you now.” I bite my tongue so hard, I can taste the blood flooding my mouth. I can’t look at him, I can’t look away from him, I’m so fucking mad! What a piece of shit. Who is he to tell me who the fuck cares about me! What the fuck makes him think I care? Fuck!

“What the hell do I care? I can get cigarettes anywhere.”

“Not in here you can’t.” He smacks my cigarette out of my mouth and walks towards the entrance. Unbelievable, this guy is such a little shit. I don’t even know this prick, and he starts walking all over my shit. I start crying, fuck, I don’t even know why. I’m not going to let this sonuvabitch get away with thinking he’s right. I start walking towards the entrance ready to fucking clock this guy in the back of his head, like a train into a stuck car. I’m envisioning WWE: rehab edition, right here, right now. Then he turns all smiley and shit and points to my bag.

“Your bag is over there, don’t forget to get it.” Shit. All the umpa lumpas are gone; I have to take this fucking thing in myself. He keeps smiling at me as I drag my bag into the facility. I’m going to need those cigarettes.