My day started at 8:30am on a money diet. I awoke to the receivers ringing in the hallway and the loudly spat words of my neighbor’s business. I had the sicks, but no money for a cure. I picked up my phone and texted Minnow, “I almost died tonight.”
I got up and tripped over fat cat who seemed to be hoarding my underwear. “Olive,” I said, “My opinion? 30 is far too old to be living like this.” The fat cat looked back, purred and said, “But we fart glitter and explore all day!” “Yes,” I said, “But we’ve no money, live in a shit tiny room in a shit tiny motel-“ “On the greatest island city in the world!” Fat cat finished. “Somebody’s well rested,” I said. “Woke from a Woody Allen play,” fat cat said, “His best one yet.” “I’m going to the caregiver,” I said. “Kisses?” fat cat asked. I grabbed my jacket and bust out the door. No kisses given. No kisses for fat cat.
While walking to the fourth floor, where the caregiver lives, I consulted my phone. No texts, so I text, “please text” to Minnow. At the door to the caregiver I try the knob with no luck and so knock. Beazer walks by shouting, “The caregiver is MALFUNCTIONING. Kisses!” And then makes a smooching sound. At first I’m confused about if there is a “period” between malfunctioning and kisses; was the caregiver malfunctioning kisses? Or was the caregiver simply malfunctioning and Beazer was offering me kisses (why)? Why was everyone saying that to me today? How could the caregiver be malfunctioning? What did that mean in terms of a human? Was he mentally ill?
I walk back to my room calculating the probability that the caregiver is not actually human, but a robot. When I reach my door I hear fat cat chanting, “Imma imma imma be, imma be dead,” and turn around and leave the building. I can’t deal with the lunacy that is fat cat while under the weather. I don’t have to be at the theatre until 5pm, so I wander to Minnows house. On the way there a young boy stops me in the street, clutching a clipboard, “PUBLIC CENSUS! Will you answer?” I nod, “Go ahead.” “Am I counting my blessings tonight? Yes or no.” I look him up and down, all 58 inches, and say, “I believe you will, yes.” “Thank you,” he says, “Kisses!” Then turns to the next passing pedestrian. “PUBLIC CENSUS! Will you answer?” I hear a slap or a shove or a hit, but am 20 or so steps gone by then. Not my problem.
I let myself into Minnow’s building and up to the thirteenth floor. I can’t remember the apartment number so I just begin spewing my delivery all over the hall. “I ALMOST DIED TONIGHT. WHEN I BREATHE IT FEELS LIKE SLIGHTLY BURNT CRISP AIR. CAREGIVER IS MALFUNCTIONING. EVERYONE KEEPS SAYING KISSES. YOU WILL NOT REPLY TO MY TEXTS. FAT CAT IS BEING MORBID AGAIN. PUBLIC CENSUS DETERMINED BOY WILL COUNT BLESSINGS, THOUGH NOW PRESSUMED BEATEN OR DEAD. WHERE ARE YOU? OFF WITH YOUR HEAD!!”
Minnow bursts out of apartment 1307, red faced, “It barges in with your words! Jesus! Can’t you just buzz or knock like normal folk?”
“I texted,” I explain.
“I don’t give a shit. I was asleep,” he counters.
“Well, anyway, I don’t know your apartment number.”
“I see. So, do you care?”
“Do I care?”
“I almost died tonight.”
“So, you mean last night.”
“Yes, last night.”
“How did I almost die?”
“May I come in?”
“Into my home?”
“You’re apartment- which is to say, your home, yes. I’m almost dead you know. I must sit, lie.”
“Ugh, fine!” Minnow proclaims, seemingly exhausted from the exchange.
I lay on his floor prostrate, though beds and chairs are open to me.
“So, how did you die?”
“Almost, not yet dead. I’m breathing slightly burnt, crip air- feels like my insides are on fire and for forty-five minutes last night I couldn’t remember my name or age. And fat cat keeps chanting ‘imma imma imma be, imma be dead.’”
“Would you feel better if I told you that you are looking very attractive today?”
I shake my head no, “I’d spit in your compliments.”
“Because they’re lies.”
“Well, I’m going to the gym.” Minnow grabs his keys and bounds out the door. I follow quickly behind.
A new child approaches us yelling, “PUBLIC CENSUS: Will you answer?” Minnow kickes up his pace, but I grab his arm, halting him, and consent for us both. “Have you heard of the fire that broke out across the sea?” I look at Minnow confused, he is nodding so I ask, “Have you?” “Of course.” “I’ve never heard of fire that broke across the sea,” I confess to the boy, “and Minnow Davis, I believe, that’s on you.” “Me?” “You know you’re my only news source!” “Bullshitsticks!” He proclaims and rushes forward. The child jots in his notepad as I scurry off to re-join Minnow.
Minnow enters the gym doors. I enter just after, the exertion catching up with my illness and me, drawing a coughing fit conclusion that leads to blood spit. Minnow doesn’t bat an eye, just pumpes his muscles up. I sigh, “It’s an extra gooey, oops batch of all human behavior, then an end. Isn’t is?” “Pretty much,” he grunts, wholly unflenched.
“How long’s it been,” I ask him, lying on the floor.
“Since you’ve been ignited by that sizzling, rising heat called lust?”
“Two years- maybe three.” Minnow starts pumping with greater intensity- not coincidental, I think.
“Marriage is obstructing your favorite fruit,” I say, “Which is to say sexy-time.”
“Sex is a fruit?”
“Fruit is a metaphor.”
“Fruit is a metaphor for sex?”
“How? I don’t see that.”
“You don’t see that? The seeds, the supple, the sticky, the shell, the interior, the forbidden, the oblong, the round- nothing?”
“All I know,” Minnow says, “Is there will hold a damn fault for falling deep, deeply – particularly when married already, but in general as well. It never ends well.”
“In lust or love?”
“Both.” He says, “Yesterday my hand laid gently on the boss because I really appreciate her work.”
“And?” I lead.
“9 days in a whispered word- that’s how weighted her breathy intonations are. They last within me, but-“
“Ah, fuck off. You get me talking like this and- shit.”
“You know these days entertainment begins its demands on Youtube or worse and what are we left to do? The stage performing, yearning for live audience types? Wait tables, wait death?”
“Get back to the sex talk. Your boss.”
“I can’t talk to you anymore. You’re too dumb.”
I look at him with a warning that says my hurt is exceeding the normally tolerated amount.
“Just kidding,” he says, “They too have been taken to heart- you’re words.”
“The thing about it all is, my friend, it must be done and work gradually inland ‘til bed. See?” I say, and in my mind have just summed up the theory of everything. “Get it, eh?”
“I guess. Small steps. Big goals. Acceptance that you may not ever get there. Knowing death looms.”
“Right.” I say.
When we leave we are both spent, but have a show to do. We get dairy-free-ice-creamed calories and jug water until the adrenaline comes. Then, we warm up our bodies, voices and minds and deliver a show to an audience of fourteen patrons and one public census boy with a bloodied nose. After the show I have performance high until 5am and fat cat tells me the plot of the Woody play he’d dreamed. It's not half bad. Then, I go to sleep.