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Dec 31, 2011

The Nitty Gritty 30: Headshots

Oh my dear, what have I gone and done now?
It's curtain call, I'm about to take my last bow
What did you expect from me?
Senses Fail, Calling All Cars

 WEDNESDAY. SEPTEMBER 7th, 2010. 5:15ish     

            A man without a country has been captured by an enemy without a face. I don't know where I have been taken for interrogation, but it resembles a POW camp. This is not Ho Chi Minh Trail in Vietnam. This is Military Trail in Delray Beach. At least I know where I'm at.
            At least I know that if I can escape, I can find my way home.

            This compound has been strategically positioned less than a half klick from a WalMart. It is surrounded by fences that extend inward on a 45 degree angle at the top. It is wrapped with that razor wire that tears into flesh in a way that makes barbed wire seem as threatening as a friendship bracelet. Unless you were a world class pole vaulter, there was no getting out.
             Getting in, on the other hand, was not a problem. With a police escort, they let you walk right through the front door. The officer hands over my personal belongings to the people at the front desk. Everyone is sizing me up as the handcuffs come off. Before leaving, he wishes me luck with my lobotomy or whatever it is that I am there for. I shake his hand and thank him. I'm not exactly sure what I was thanking him for. I guess it was for dropping me off somewhere that wasn't the Palm Beach County Jail.
            I look like some 3rd world refugee who just washed up on the beach and got picked up before he could reach A1A. My feet are bare. My Abercrombie's are ripped from above the gash in my knee to just above my ankle. My white Polo t-shirt needs to have the underarms bleached and then be thrown in the trash. I can't remember the last time I showered, shaved, slept, ate, or had a rational thought. All I know is that my parents and my best friend have conspired to have me institutionalized.
             In Florida, they call it being Baker Acted.
             In Pennsylvania, they call it being 302'd.
             I call it being fucked over by the people closest to me.

             I hear the door unlock. Some guy walks me through the doors and gives me some bullshit about how everything's gonna be alright. I hear the doors automatically lock behind me. He leads me down a very drab hospital-looking hallway. We pass some small rooms with cots in them. He tells me to have a seat in one of the plastic chairs outside an office. I'm waiting to see the lady inside who is sitting at her desk. I'm watching her multitask as she fills out paperwork while pretending to listen to the rambling of some girl who is clearly unstable in her emotions.
            I sit there like I'm waiting to see the principal to face her accusations. She calls out to me. "James? You have a phone call. You can use the phone on the wall".
            I walk over and pick up the phone. I doubt it's anyone I want to speak to since I hate everyone I have ever known.
            It's my mom. This should be good. At least my dad didn't kill her. She is talking as if there had been no conflict between them. There is no way they could have settled this kind of madness in less than an hour. The phone must be tapped. I never knew my mother had it in her to be so scandalous. She is acting like I am the one with the problem. She sounds heartbroken. She is a fine actress, my mother. Now I know where my histrionics come from. Since our dialogue is being recorded, she is hamming it up. This whole scene was written by my father, who is also directing this family drama. After a few well scripted words of motherly concern, she pretends to be holding back tears. Bravo, mom, bravo. She attempts to choke up the audience with her next line.
           "Honey, your dad and I wanna know, do you want to come home and be a family again?"
            And the Oscar goes to...Jimmy's mom for her role in "Making The Firstborn Think He's A Crazy Person". The audience does not go wild. The audience is silent.
             I tell my Meryl Streep of a mother, "Not if you guys are going to involve me in whatever is going on".
            "What are you talking about? Your dad is right here, he's fine. And I'm not having some clandestine affair".
             The lies are too much to listen to. How far are they going to take this? I took Intro To Acting in college. I can play along. I ask, "And I suppose you're gonna try to tell me that I wasn't in Vegas?"
           "No honey, you weren't in Vegas".
            Wow. She really deserved that Best Actress Award. She sounds so sincerely sad, but she is lying. I know I was in Vegas. I haven't always been the best son, but I've never talked back or raised my voice to my mom. Unbelievably, I've never even cursed in front of her. Then again, I've never been put in a nut house to cover her lies before. It has certainly been a day of firsts. I'm going to do some method acting of my own.
            This is the part in the movie when the villain sets fire to what the hero loves most.
           "You know what, mom? I DON'T NEED THIS SHIT!"
             I yell.
             I hang up.
             I END SCENE.
             I FADE TO BLACK.

Dec 30, 2011

A Love Letter To Katy Perry


             I don't know what to offer you
             I'm only broke and lonely
             The Walkmen, Another One Goes By
Dear Katy,

          First off, I just want you to know that I am not some kind of "weirdo" or stalker type. Second, I want you to know that I am madly in love with you and would like to go on a first date. You are amazingly beautiful and I also hear that you are a very good singer. Maybe I'll download, I mean legally purchase one of your cd's. Are they available at Target?
          I would have to say that you and Marion Cotillard are the 2 most beautiful women I have ever seen. You both have a similar look, but she is 10 years older than you, has a baby, and is married, not that marriage means much in Hollywood.
         Speaking of marriage, I was so happy to hear about your divorce today. I'm really glad things did not work out with that Russel Brand character. That's really great news for both of us. You will be free to date and eventually marry me within a few weeks. As for me, I will be able to watch Get Him To the Greek without being overwhelmed by searing animosity. Other people think Forgetting Sarah Marshall is hilarious, but it just makes me angry.
         Every time I see him I wonder to myself,"What's so great about him? What does this English chap have that I don't?"
         So I made a list.
         1) Millions of people think he's hilarious.
             (I think I'm hilarious)
         2) He has his own place.
             (That's just because he hates his mother. That tells ya something right there)
         3) He guest starred on The Simpsons.
             (I have seasons 1-4 on DVD)
         4) He has a radio show.
             (When I get a mic I'm gonna do a podcast)
         5) He has bipolar disorder and was bulimic.
             (I've dated bipolar chicks before. It's awesome when their manic :) The depression part sucks :( As for my mental health, well, I've never had an eating disorder)
          6) He was a sex addict. Voted Shagger of the Year 2006-2008
             ( I went almost 2 years without getting laid 2008-2010)
          7) He used to self harm.
              (I have never choked myself while masturbating)
          8) He has a valid driver's license (I assume)
              (I get mine back in 2 months. I thought the cop said,"Try NOT to walk a straight line". He should have been more clear since I was obviously intoxicated)
          9) He has a past of drug addiction.
             (Eh, never mind that one, bad example.)
         10) He was an alcoholic and now is sober.
             (Let's be honest, that's no fun. He's always running off to meetings. Steps are for stairways, am I right? (clear throat) Let's just move on to the next one)
          11)  He was very promiscuous.
               (Another bad example. We all have a past, right (nervous laughter)? After all, you dated that dirtbag from Gym Class Heroes, but I promise that is the last time I bring that up. I've made mistakes in my past too. Interestingly enough, most of them also had nose rings.)
          12)  He has written 2 autobiographical memoirs where he shamelessly recounts tales of debauchery that should remain private. He openly discusses drug and alcohol abuse and sex. Is nothing sacred?
               ( I am writing a memoir that pretty much does the same thing) 
           13) He called his books "Booky Wooky 1" and "Booky Wooky 2"
               (I called part 1 of my blog series "Nitty Gritty", but I'm going to call the book "The Patron Saint of...Whatever" or maybe "The Patron Saint of...WTF?" I'm sure you are as smart as you are beautiful, so I'll let you decide. See? I'm very unselfish. I'm that way in bed too. Just throwing that out there)

       Well, I could go on and on, but I think I may be hurting my argument more than helping it, now that I think about it. I don't really think before I write, I just let it bleed out of me and think about it later. If I would have considered this list, maybe I would have mentioned all the things that me and your soon to be ex-husband have in common. I should really read his memoirs, sounds right up my alley. Speaking of "up my alley", maybe I should just date him. Just kidding. See, I'm hilarious too.
        But, I really do have to get going. I'm sure you will have 12 million similar proposals on Twitter by the time you read this and write me back. Plus, I have to get back to finishing my blog series that I told you about. It's pretty much a rough draft so once I finish it, I have to go back to the beginning and actually edit it and structure it into novel form. What I've done so far is stream of consciousness, kind of like this letter. But I guess when you bottle up such strong emotions, once you let them out, it just seems to flow. I actually think Russel would enjoy it if he read it. Maybe if things go as planned, as they never do, you might actually read it in 2012. Maybe you'll think to yourself,"This guy is a lot like Russel, except he never shot heroin in a bathroom (I snorted it once, but I NEVER use public bathrooms for anything since I stopped doing coke), he's younger than Russel (almost 5 months) and most importantly, he is SO much better looking than Russel" (debatable).
         Honestly, Katy my love, I can't be Russel Brand #2. I don't want to be. I only want to be Jimmy Mac #1. Actually, I might settle for Mr. Katy Perry #2, but we can discuss that on our first date and ponder it until our Vegas wedding 22 days later. You won't have to worry about me cheating on you while you are on the road, because I will go with you. Don't worry, I'll stay at the hotel and write. When I'm not on tour with you, I'll just be at home writing. Writing, as you will find out, is my other obsession and the other love of my life. I will gladly take a good night of writing over a one night stand. Why would I bother when no other woman alive compares to you (besides Marion Cotillard, but we already covered that)?
          If you do not accept my proposal without ever having seen me, just know that I have enclosed a recent picture. If that still does not get me a call back, maybe our paths will cross one day. Maybe we will look back at this letter and laugh and laugh and make love like 5 times and then laugh at what a jackass I was before I became a successful writer. Then we will laugh at how money and success have only made me an even bigger jackass, then I'll beg you for another round, which you will undoubtedly and gladly accept. Then while you sleep like a completely satisfied angel, I will sit there and give myself a mental pat on the back, the same back that once caused me to start taking pain killers. I will laugh, not loud enough to wake you, but I will laugh at the thought that I once wished I had never been born. I will have so much appreciation for how truly amazing my life has turned out. And even if I don't believe in God on that particular night, I will still thank Him.
          I can tell by drooling over your pictures that you will give a lot of consideration to my letter. If you do not fall in love with me by the time you're done reading, or even by the time I die, it will be okay. I will be okay. There was a time not too long ago when I could not say that. There was a time when I would have never had the courage to write this letter or anything that may invite criticism or ridicule. Those days are gone. I now feel that I deserve only the best, and luckily for you, I consider you the best. I will die alone before I settle. If that happens, that is okay too. But, you never know what will happen. Situations change drastically in months, weeks, days, and even hours. Sometimes everything changes in a single moment when we least expect it. So I expect you to holla back before some lucky girl comes along and scoops me up. If that happens, I wish you all the best. If someone does steal me away from you, maybe her and I will read this letter together and we will laugh and I will pull out a blue wig and ask her to let me call her Katy. Then I will tell her I'm kidding and we'll laugh and I'll be thinking how I was being serious about the wig thing and she'll be thinking the same thing, but we'll just keep laughing and laughing until it's just not funny anymore, if that time ever comes. Then while she sleeps like a completely satisfied angel, I will sit there and give myself a mental pat on the back, the same back that once caused me to start taking pain killers. I will laugh, not loud enough to wake her, but I will laugh at the thought that I once wished I had never been born. I will have so much appreciation for how truly amazing my life has turned out. And even if I don't believe in God on that particular night, I will still thank Him.

          Love Always,
          Jimmy Mac

         P.S.  I'm out front of your house and it doesn't look like anyone is home. I didn't want this to get lost in the shuffle of all your fan mail, so I'm just going to leave it under your pillow in your bedroom. Don't be worried, I'm not going to go through your panty drawer. I already told you, I'm not some weird stalker type.

Dec 24, 2011

The Nitty Gritty 29: Vigorish

Beautiful isn't it? It took me half a lifetime to invent it. I'm sure you've discovered my deep and abiding interest in pain. Presently I'm writing the definitive work on the subject, so I want you to be totally honest with me on how the machine makes you feel. This being our first try, I'll use the lowest setting.
The Princess Pride

            For the 3rd time in 6 months, I was handcuffed in the back of a cop car. Handcuffs always hurt, but the indentations they leave in your wrists go away after a while. This time was different.
            I'm rocking back and forth in the back seat. I'm tempted to start kicking the cage dividing us.
            "FUCK!" I shout. "GODDAMN IT!"
            The cop tells me it's okay.
            "It's not okay" I assure him.
            I can hear what's happening over the police radio. A police helicopter is following Jeff and his wife, Kimmy, who are being followed by DJB's thugs. The helicopter is in communication with the closest patrol car. 3 unidentified men in a black SUV are following a couple in a black Mustang. The patrol car is in pursuit.
           Since my hands are cuffed behind me, I am leaning forward in the backseat. I hang on every word. I'm like some deranged parrot on adderall perched on the cop's shoulder. It seems whoever taught this paranoid parrot to talk has a filthy mouth because the only phrase that it repeatedly squawks is "This is so fucked up. This is so fucked up".
            The officer drives in silence. I assume it is because he is also caught up in the play by play on the radio. This must be what it's like to listen to the closing minutes of the Super Bowl on the radio...if you let the lives of your best friend's family ride on the outcome. No parlay. No teaser. No spread. Straight moneyline.
            Jeff and I were flip sides of the same coin. In the game of life, for every one of my bad bets, Jeff had put in the right play. It was as if he kept my action. If I only I could keep his family from having to cover my losses. It's one thing to ruin your own life, but this would be unforgivable. I should have just killed myself.
            This was about more than long shots and sure things.
            This goes beyond wins and losses.
            This is life and death.
            Sane and insane.
            I'm so confused. I thought Jeff fucked me over, but it seems like the opposite is true. I guess it was inevitable. I've always fucked over the people who loved me most. It seemed I had topped myself this time.
            I'm sorry, Jeff. I'm sorry, Kimmy. I'm sorry, little Ella. I'm so sorry.

            I know I could not live very long with the torment of knowing I was responsible for the death of my best friend and his wife, and leaving his daughter without parents. If and when I get out of wherever it is I'm being taken, I will exact the most brutal vengeance conceivable. One by one, I will show these bullies what it feels like to be helpless. Everyone of these mother fuckers will die in pain and fear. And then maybe I'll be able to die in peace. No, there will be no peace. I'll just die.
            I finally hear the cop on the radio say he is behind the SUV in question and is going to pull it over. A few moments later, I hear that the vehicle is loaded with weapons and the thugs are being taken into custody. "Thank God" I say.

            I sit back and I calm down... for about 7 seconds.   
            "This is so fucked up", I tell the cop. Even though he doesn't ask, I decide to try to explain myself in the loudest and most rapid fashion possible. "On Sunday, I find out that my dad died. I was planning on going to his funeral tomorrow in Philly, and then he just called me like 10 minutes ago".
            I can't sit still and I can't stop talking. This is mania. I am a maniac.
            "I mean. how would you feel if you thought your dad died and then he calls you?"
            "I'd be pretty upset too" he admits.
            This cop is one of the good guys. I've been treated like an asshole by cops before when I did not deserve it. I deserved it now, but he never loses his cool. I know that this situation sucks, but I recognize that I am lucky that he is the one taking me to wherever it is he is taking me. I would have pulled over and beat myself with the butt of my service revolver.
            "Thank you. Thanks for at least admitting that. I appreciate that. That's why I'm freaking out".
            He tells me I'm safe now.
            "Safe?" I say as I start to get belligerent. "The only time I did not feel safe this week was when I was with cops".
            This is a total lie. Madness only multiplies flaws of character.
            I ramble on. "You have no idea what kind of corruption goes on with Philly cops. I was up there with my cousin and I swear the shit was just like something from The Shield. You watch The Shield?"
            "When it was on I did" he says.
            "Awesome show, huh?" I ask.
            He agrees. Not as passionately, but he agrees."Yeah, it was good".
            "Right? I watched all 7 seasons last week, straight through" I say proudly. I'm not connecting dots at this point. "That's exactly what it was like up there. They got their hands in drugs, the dealers, the pimps, the prostitutes. It's so fucking corrupt". I realize that I better shut up before he has me questioned by Internal Affairs about my cousin and what I know about corruption in the Philadelphia Police Department.

            I just look out the window. I'm not going to incriminate myself or anyone else. That lasts about 4 seconds. I am out of control. I know I am a madman, but I know I have the right to act this way. "Look, my dad had some legal problems years ago, so I think he faked his own death to get away from all of that. Either that or he did it to see if my mom was cheating on him. But either way, why involve me? Why put me through this and make me think he's dead, ya know what I'm saying?"
             He never argues with me during the whole ride. I never shut up the whole ride. I just spout one conspiracy theory after another during the 20 minute ride.            
            The cop in the passenger seat is a black woman with a jheri curl. I never see her face, only the back of her head, which she never turns. She never acknowledges me. At least the guy is responding to me and attempting to keep me calm. She never says a word. Even though I can see her, she isn't there.
            I didn't know that it was only me and the cop driving in this car. The only thing I did know was that he was not taking me to the Boca Raton Police Department. I don't know what this means. I don't know if this is a good or bad thing.

Dec 21, 2011

The Nitty Gritty, 28: September Spawned A Monster

 I have come to the brink of utter ruin
and now I must face public disgrace.        
 Proverbs 5:14

  WEDNESDAY. SEPTEMBER 7th, 2010. 4:30ish

            I stop my car just in time.
            A cop car blocks my escape. I figure I'll get out of his way so he can take care of the asshole who is causing problems in my neighborhood. Whatever it is, I don't want to get involved. I'm already frantic as shit so he's going to find it hard to believe I'm not up to something shady.
            I reversed my car under the gate before it could close again. I back into my spot.  I throw the car in park and turn it off. Then I realize he may be there because of what's going on with my parents. I hit the garage door opener button that opens the back gate. I don't even put my flip flops on or put my window up. I just get out and slam my door, and start towards the back of the garage. It doesn't open. I hit the wrong button. I opened the front gate so the cop can walk right in.
            "James MacDonald?" 
            I would have to get around him to get away. I don't know how far I'm gonna get in bare feet. Plus, I don't know how many other cops are out there. He's about 10 feet away so I need to run now if I'm going to have a chance.
            "Are you James MacDonald?"
            I try to act like everything is cool.
            "Yeah, why what's up?"
            "Some people are worried about you".
            Either my friends or my family have fucked me over.
            "Who's worried about me?"
            "Your family and friends are worried about you".
            "I don't know what they told you, but they're the ones with the problem, not me. Whatever is going on, it has nothing to do with me".
             He puts his hands up as if he is approaching a mad dog that he would prefer not to have to put out of it's misery.
            "Everything is alright. You're not in trouble. People who care about you are just concerned about what's been going on".
            "Look, I know something is going on with my dad, but it doesn't involve me. All I know is that I found out my dad died on Sunday and then he just called me 5 minutes ago. That's all I know".
           "That's fine. You're not in trouble, but you do have to come with me".
            I'm not scared. I'm angry.
            "My family is fucked up so you're gonna arrest me?"
            "I'm not arresting you".
            "You're not arresting me?
            "No. I'm just going to take you somewhere so you can talk about what's going on".
            "About what's going on with my dad?"
            "About everything. Anything you want to talk about".
            "What's going to happen to my dad?"
            "Don't worry about your dad. I know that you need some help. I'm gonna take you to get some".
            "I don't understand what's happening".
            I'm not angry anymore. I realize that I am in over my head. Running would only make this situation worse. I trust this guy.
            "You promise you're not arresting me?"
            "I'm not arresting you. You haven't done anything".
            He's right, I think?
            "Alright, then. I'll go with you".
            As if I had a choice.
            He tells me to turn around and put my hands on the car. I shake my head as I turn and put my hands on the car. Outside the back gate, I see my neighbor who gave me the xanax because she thought my dad died. She is walking her Shih tzu. They are both watching the whole thing. "It's going to be okay" she yells to me. Sure it is.
            "I thought you weren't arresting me?" I say.
            He asks for my left hand. I put it behind my back and he cuffs it.
            "You're not under arrest".
            "I've been arrested before" I admit. "It feels like I'm under arrest".
            He assures me I'm not as he checks my pockets.
            "Then what's up with the handcuffs?"
            He tells me it's the law.
            I'm disgusted at myself for trusting him. I'm such an idiot. I should have ran.

             I ask him if he can put my window up and lock my door for me. He does. I think about running, but I'm not going far in bare feet with my hands cuffed behind my back.
            "Can you put a shirt or something over the cuffs so my neighbors don't think I'm a criminal?"
             He just says that it's fine and we're gonna leave now.
             I don't care anymore. There's nothing left to lose. Nothing to look forward to. No family. No friends. No girlfriend. No money. No hopes. No self esteem. I'm finished. My life is fucked. It can't be unfucked. I just wish I would have eaten enough pills to have just died in my sleep. I just wish I was never born.

            As the officer walks me out of the garage,  I see Jeff is standing there.
            I'm speechless as I stare him down.
            I can see the concern on his face. My best friend called the cops because he is concerned that I am going to ruin our fucking company.
            "You alright, bro?" he asks.
            This sets me off.
            "You bring the fucking cops over here?" I am beyond pissed. "You been talking to my parents?"
            The cop knows I am losing control. He knows I would swing on Jeff if I could, so he tightens his grip and walks me towards his car faster. He opens the back door so he can put me in. I look over the hood of the cop car at my former best friend. Before I am put in the backseat, Jeff tells me what he is feeling.
            "I love ya, bro!"
            I immediately tell him how I feel.
            "FUCK YOU!" 


Dec 17, 2011

The Nitty Gritty, 27: The Talking Dead

My life has been full of terrible misfortunes,
most of which never happened.
 Michel de Montaigne 

            This mother fucker.
            "What do you mean my dad's not dead?"
            "I just talked to him" Jeff says.
            This guy's holding seances and shit now?
            "You need to call him. He's worried about you".
            Enough with this 6th Sense bullshit.
            "My dead father is worried about me?"
            "Yeah. Everybody's worried about you".
            I don't understand what is happening.
            "Your dad's gonna call you. Make sure you pick up".
            I don't even know what to say. This is cruel. I do not deserve this.
            My other line beeps.
            I look to see who it is.
            It says "Dad" on my caller id.
            Someone must be using his phone to call about the funeral.
            I click over and answer.
            "Jimmy boy."
            It's my dad.
            It is my dead father on the phone.
            I am Hamlet. This is Denmark.
            My head is spinning. I may faint. I might vomit.
            My God, my God, why has Thou forsaken  me?

            In 5 seconds of silence, I imagine every possible explanation for this insanity.
            Is this a prerecorded message?
            Did he fake his death to get away from his legal problems?
            Did he fake his death to find out if my mom was having an affair?
            Whatever the reason, it was not fair to have put me through this.
            There is no comprehending what I am caught in the middle of.
            Everything is a lie.
            Nothing can ever be the same after this.
            Nothing would ever make this okay.
            This is panic.
            This is bewilderment.
            This is insane.
            This is the end of my world.
            This is fucked.
            This is all I can say. "What's going on?" I ask in overwhelming desperation.
            "What do you mean?" He sounds so nonchalant.
            "I thought you were dead?"
            I want to cry, but I can't. I am too confused.
            "You thought I was dead?"
            "Yeah. We had a party".
            "You had a party because you thought I was dead?"
            "Not a party. Like a memorial". Wait. Why the hell am I explaining myself. I'm the one who deserves answers. I am disintegrating where I stand. I'm trembling like an earthquake.
            "Is this because of mom?" He doesn't know what I mean. "Did you do this because mom is cheating on you?"
            Please tell me something that makes sense. Please stop making it seem like I am the crazy one.
            "Your mother's not cheating on me".
            "Dad, I saw her".
            "What have you been doing? Have you been taking something?"
            "No. I was in Vegas. I had a great time and then I got home and found out you died".
            "You were in Vegas?"
            "Yeah, then I was up in Philly". I told him that I had been with my police officer cousin who involved me in the pimp and drug shit and say "Yeah, I will never hang out with that dude again". I bring up the treasure discovery. "It was the greatest adventure of my life. I don't know how to describe it. It was like something out of a Hemingway novel".
            "You stay there. Jeff is on his way over. Just wait for him".
            "You're really okay?" I ask. He says he is. I tell him I'll wait for Jeff.

            Even though my mom was cheating on my dad, I thought I should warn her that he is alive before he OJ's her and her boyfriend. I walk back in the garage and see my mom and her boyfriend run by. They are being followed by my dad. I yell at him to stop, but he chases them out the back of the parking garage.
            Why is this happening to me? Why can't I have a normal life?
            Why am I the only sane person left in the world?
            You know what? Fuck this. Fuck my parents. I'm not a goddamn pawn in their game. I'm not getting dragged into this madness. I need to leave. I don't want to be here. I don't want to witness what is going to happen. I don't want to incriminate my father for the murders that are about to happen. I am already scarred. I have already seen too much. I have to save myself.
            I run to my car and fumble with the keys as I start it. I take off my red flip flops so I can drive. I pull out of my spot so I can exit through the front of the garage. I only stop because the gate is closed. I hit the garage door opener on my visor. Before it opens, my passenger door opens up and Betsy gets in and looks at me with disappointment.
            "I thought you said you loved me?"
            What the fuck? I never said that. I didn't love her, but maybe I told her I did when I was wasted in Vegas and just didn't remember. I must have been trying to sleep with her.
            In my hallucinations, I am still a whore.
            "I do love you", I promise her.
            "Are you sure?"
            "Yes. It's the only thing I am sure of anymore".
            In my delusions, I am still a liar.
            She doesn't seem convinced, but I've got bigger issues right now.
            "Then why is the FBI calling me?"
            "Look, something is going on with my dad. He's not dead. I just talked to him. I just need to get out of here. I do love you. I'll call you in a little bit once I know what's going on".
            She gets out and I drive under the garage door before it can close again. I pull through the parking lot. I start making a right turn on my street so I can go to A1A, then I'll figure out where I'm going.
            As far gone as I am, I am going no further.
            I hit my brakes, but there's no way to stop what is coming.

The Nitty Gritty, 26: Field of Bad Dreams


 Don't even think about reaching me
 I won't be home
  PJ, Footsteps 

            I was in my lobby when Jeff calls. I'm lounging in the yellow chair that I couldn't force into the elevator.
            This call came in on the red phone, the one that worked. It was the first time it rang since Friday.
            He immediately wants to know what I'm doing.
            "I'm getting ready to go up to Publix. Why, what's up?"
            "Everybody's worried about you" he tells me.
            I assume he means our friends who were partners in the treasure discovery conglomerate corporation "fucking company".
            So, my employees are starting to worry about me, huh?
            Friends or not, heads are going to roll.
            "There's nothing to worry about. Everything is cool".
            Everything is not cool. Nothing is cool.
            Jeff wants to know who I'm with. I tell him I'm hanging out with Betsy and DJB.
            "You're hanging out with Betsy and DJB?"
            He knew what a piece of shit DJB was and what happened on the boat. I thought that he was worried that in my naivete, I was allowing DJB to slither his way into stealing our riches. 
            "Yeah, but it's cool" I assure him.
            "Don't go anywhere. I'm coming over. I'll be there in 5 minutes".
            Don't go anywhere? This kid's forgetting who's boss.

            I don't like people telling me what to do, so I get up and walk through the parking garage to find DJB. He wasn't at my car, so I walk outside. Jeff is already there. He is arguing with DJB.
            "Stay away from Jimmy!" he demands. "I know what you're trying to do".
            Like the proverbial dog to his own vomit, DJB returns to his old ways.
            He starts threatening Jeff. Jeff doesn't react well to threats. He reaches into his green pick up truck, that actually belonged to a neighbor. He pulls out an aluminum baseball bat and starts swinging for the fences like Mark McGwire on meth. If he connects, it's going to be "lights out" like in the last scene of The Natural.
            Wow, Jeffy J is crazy as fuck.
            I thought I was the crazy one.
            I guess I am.
            I run over and stop him before he turns DJB's head into some lucky fan's souvenir. I pull him aside and tell him DJB has changed his ways. Jeff is angry at me for not seeing what DJB is trying to do. I start thinking that he may be right and that I am being taken for a fool. Jeff looks over my shoulder and starts laughing his ass off. I turn to see what is so funny.
            DJB is sitting on his scooter. It is actually my neighbor's scooter that I had seen countless times in the parking lot. I did not recognize it because it was now bright red, white, orange, and yellow. It also has a sign on the front with a clown face on it.
            Under the clown's face, it reads, "I do parties".
            "You're working as a party clown now?" Jeff can't stop laughing.
            Apparently, besides killing off all of his porn cronies, DJB lost his millions and had resorted to wearing over sized shoes at children's parties, where I pictured him making animals out of balloons and a fool out of himself. I guess they didn't do a background check.
            I am embarrassed for him as Jeff berates this clown's new career.
            Jeff tells me to get rid of this guy. Maybe I need to remind Roy Hobbs who's boss, but I can wait until after he puts the Louisville Slugger away.
            I go tell DJB that I need to sort some things out with Jeff and he should probably just leave. He asks me about flying me up to my father's funeral the next day. I tell him not to worry about it. He still wants to buy me groceries so he will wait for me at Publix.
            He scoots off and I go to my neighbor's truck, thinking Jeff is inside. I knock to let him know the passenger door is locked. He won't unlock it, so I just keep knocking.
           "Dude, come on. Let me in". I knock harder. I give up out of frustration after a few minutes and walk back to the garage. My roommate is standing there watching me. He looks very concerned. Again, he tells me to not go anywhere because Jeff is on his way. I'm still a bit frantic from the confrontation between Ken Griffey Johnson and Porno the Clown. I ignore him and walk to my car. I am unlocking it when Jeff calls me.
            This was another "red phone" call.
            This was not a delusion.
            "Hey, what's up?" I ask.
            I begin pacing the garage.
            "You need to call your dad" Jeff tells me.
            I can't believe what he is saying. My best friend is telling me to call my dead father. He was the one who got everyone together for the memorial party on Sunday. This was not funny. Not at all.
            "Why the fuck would you say that?"
            "You need to call him".
            "Why would you say something like that? What the fuck is wrong with you? My dad is dead".
            "Your dad's not dead. I just talked to him".

Dec 10, 2011

The Nitty Gritty, 25: Use Your Delusion

I knew the storm was getting closer
And all my friends said I was high
But everything we've ever known's here
I never wanted it to die
G N' R, Estranged

            God forbid I got more than 5 minutes of sleep.
            I feel someone moving at the foot of my bed. I open my eyes to see DJB sitting there shadow fishing. In case you never heard of shadow fishing, it's when some scumbag that you despise pretends to cast out an invisible fishing rod as if trying to catch fish in shadows on the wall cast by horizontal blinds.
            Yeah, I had never heard of it either.
            He was too busy to notice I was awake.
            Apparently he had something on his line because he was struggling to pretend to reel it in. I was not as concerned with how the shadow fish were biting as I was with what this mother fucker was doing in my room.
            Last time I saw him he had me fighting for my life, killing for his entertainment.
            I had some throwing knives on my bedside drawer. I don't know why I had them so accessible, but apparently when someone is depressed and has 4 knives next to their bed, people assume the worst. Sure, I wanted to die, but that didn't mean I wanted to kill myself.
            I did want to kill this fuck fly fishing at my feet though. All alliteration aside, I considered stabbing him in his jugular.
            If a knife to his neck seems drastic, I invite you to go back and read chapters 17 and 19 again. Go ahead, I'll be waiting at the next paragraph.

            See? Yeah, now you want me to stab the son of a bitch, don't you? I know, right?
            Since I'm not a psychopath like you, I don't just stab the guy. That's fucked up.
            "What are you doing here?"
            Before responding, he actually finishes reeling in his line and then puts down his invisible rod. This dude has serious problems.
            "You never told me your dad died". He is suddenly concerned about my dad, who he never met. He's acting like a complete different person than the sadist I last saw on the boat.
            "Mother fucker, what do you care? Since when do you give a shit about me or my dad? You didn't seem to care the other night".
            He tells me he's sorry about that.
            "You're sorry? I almost died, asshole".
            He explained to me how he realized after everyone was dead, that he had no more friends or scumbags to film his smut for him. I told him I was not going to work for him again and I was done with that shit. He says he's done with it too. Since I'm the only one left, he's trying to make amends with me.
            He just wants to redeem himself.
            I just want him to kill himself.

            He wants to know about the funeral. I tell him it's in Philadelphia tomorrow but I'm not going because I don't have any money. He tells me he's gonna take care of it. He says there's no way "one of his guys" is going to miss his dad's funeral. I decided to buy into his act. If nothing else I would be able to see my dad buried. Once I got home I'd be sure to thank him and then tell him to get fucked. Since he no longer had any bodyguards to protect him, I'd probably kick the shit out of him too. Until then, I guess we could hang out.
            I walked into my kitchen where my mom and Betsy were getting to know each other. It was time to confront my mother about mugging down with some strange dude at the bar.
            When I was a kid, I always knew I was in serious trouble when my mom said "I have a bone to pick with you". She reserved this phrase for things like finding a bra under my bed or a police officer stopping by to tell her they received an anonymous call that I was selling drugs. Stuff like that.
            "Mom, I have a bone to pick with you".
            She knows she's in trouble. What's up now, Mom?
            "I saw you last night. I saw you making out with that guy at the bar. Dad hasn't even been buried yet".
            She tells me that she met the guy while my dad was in prison and they broke it off when he got out. She said he was on his way over and she wanted me to meet him.
            "Are you serious? Dad's funeral is tomorrow and you want me to meet your boyfriend? Fuck that. Fuck him". If she were really there, it would have been the first time I ever cursed in front of her. Hard to believe, huh?

            I stormed to my room in disgust. Betsy followed.
            "Are you okay?" she asked.
            "I just need to get out of here for a little bit".
            DJB suggests we go to Publix and he will buy some groceries and then everyone who is not here can have a big lunch.
            Betsy says that's a good idea. I have to agree that it would be a good idea to eat something this week.
            I have a nasty gash on my knee from the boat incident. I throw on my Abercrombie's from that night. Since they are ripped from above the knee to the middle of my shin, I figure they won't irritate my bloody knee. I throw on a wrinkled, pit stained white Polo undershirt.
            I would have dressed better if I knew I would not be changing for the next 6 days.

            I walked out of my room and saw my mom in the kitchen with the douchebag from the bar. He was obviously a bicyclist because he had the whole get up going. His outfit was all white from the spandex shorts to the helmet he was still wearing. My mom called me over to introduce us. Instead of uppercutting this Lance Armstrong looking mother fucker under his chinstrap, I reluctantly shook his hand.
           "We're going to get some groceries" I tell her. "I'll be back".

           My roommate, the only person who was actually there, heard me and came out of his room.
           "Hey, Jim. Stay here. Jeff's on his way over".
            "He is? Oh, cool" I say.
            He told me not to go anywhere and to just wait for Jeff to get there. He hurried back into his room as if he needed to get back to an important phone call.
            As soon as his door closes, I grab my keys.
            "I'll drive".
            This would be the first time I drove since I started hallucinating.
            14 months have passed since that day.
            I have not driven since.

Dec 8, 2011

The Nitty Gritty, 24: Misery Has Company

See, the human mind is like a pata.
When it breaks open, there's a lot of surprises inside.
Once you get the pata perspective, 
you see that losing your mind can be a peak experience.
          Jane Wagner


            I don't know if I slept. I don't remember waking up.
            At some point in the afternoon, random imaginary friends started dropping by my apartment. My visitors would range from people I loved to the only person I hated. My worst enemy would become my friend, while my best friend would become my enemy. My family would end up somewhere in between.
            I arranged some bar stools in a circle for my friends who were not there. I was telling them my Vegas story. I guess I was building up to the whole bullshit treasure discovery nonsense. It did not occur to me that I was the richest man to ever have an empty fridge.
            There was no dining room table in my dining room. It did have a desk and office chair in it though. It was the piece of furniture closest to the front door so it was mostly used for accumulating unopened bills that I had no money to pay. The desk was against the wall opposite me. My mom was slouched in the chair asleep. I could barely see the top of her head over the back of the chair. I figured I'd introduce her to my friends.
            "Mom". She must be passed out so I call her louder. "Mom".
            I remember feeling embarrassed. I thought she may have been passed out from meds. Even though my mother did not take drugs, I figured a doctor or her sister gave her some xanax or something after my dad died. I don't know if she really needed it. She seemed to be handling it pretty well when I saw her making out with that guy last night. Then again, for someone who only has an occasional glass of wine, a little bit of merlot and a benzo might explain the disturbing scene at the bar. I still had not confronted her about this.
            "Mom! Wake up, I want you to meet..." I forget who I was trying to introduce her to. I guess it doesn't matter since no one was there.

            My roommate was the only person who was there. How he had let this insanity go on this long still baffles me. He poked his head out of his room when he heard me. I turned and told him I was just trying to wake up my mom to introduce her to everyone. He didn't say anything. He just looked at me like I was crazy and then closed his door. I figured he was just annoyed that I had people over. I shook my head at my friends to let them know to not worry about him. I tell them he just gets annoyed if I have company, even if we're not being loud.
            My mom was now slouched too low in the chair to even see her head. I realized that I had to wake her up. Since she knew nothing about drugs, she could have easily taken too much xanax. It wouldn't take a lot to knock her on her ass, unlike her son who has built a tolerance over the years. Not enough of a tolerance to prevent him from passing out and totaling his Mustang.
            I had to make sure this rookie mother of mine was not in a coma. "Mom". I walked over and spun the chair towards me. It was empty. For a moment, I realized that something was not right. It made me recall how I had been ignored by people several times over the last few days, even when I was speaking directly to them. This was the only time I even thought  something seemed to not be right.

            I didn't have time to think about it long. There was a knock on my door. It was my uncle. Even though he lived in Philadelphia, I fully accepted that he lived in my building. He told me I needed to come out and keep an eye on my grandmother while he went to get something to clean the hallway carpet. Even though my grandmother was in a nursing home in Philly, she was standing against the wall at the end of my hallway. She had left a trail of shit behind her. I went out there and tried to get her to come into my apartment before any of my neighbors saw me. She look petrified and would not come away from the wall no matter how much I pleaded with her. I stood at the end of the hallway and put my hand against the wall so she could not get to the elevator area. Behind me, I heard neighbors approaching from the opposite hallway to get on the elevator. I just looked down at the floor and hid my face behind my outstretched arm. The seconds seemed like minutes as this woman and her son waited for the elevator. I could not handle the humiliation and frustration.
            "Grandmom, please. We need to get out of the hallway. You can't be out here doing this".
            I felt like if I did not acknowledge my neighbors, they would go straight to my property manager. She was probably already irritated with me for always paying my rent as late as possible without getting evicted.
            "I'm so sorry about this" I tell them. "We're gonna get it all cleaned up".
            They looked at each other and then at me but did not respond. What could they say to someone talking to themselves in the hallway? They would say something to somebody though. This would be another incident mentioned when I would be told how "neighbors were starting to talk" about my behavior.

            I kept pleading with my grandmother until they got on the elevator. My uncle finally came back. He said he was going to bring her downstairs where she would be picked up and taken to a nursing home. He wanted me to hold the elevator door while he tried to get her to the elevator. She wasn't budging. I figured this could take a while and I could not handle anymore humiliation. God forbid my neighbors would talk about me. Plus, the sight and smell of feces makes me want to fucking throw up. Between the shitty hallway and me dry heaving bile in the hallway, I don't know, neighbor's might say something, if they weren't trying too hard to hold back their own vomit. Lovely, huh?

             I wasn't going to stand there all afternoon like some psychotic elevator operator. Instead of getting a chair out of my apartment to hold the elevator door open, I went down to the first floor to grab a chair from the lobby. I decided I'd use the yellow sofa chair...that would never fit in the elevator. Whatever. It didn't stop me from trying. I tried maneuvering every possible way. A couple who lived in the building entered the lobby as I tried to force this chair in. I was irritated so I just ignored them and decided that they could wait or take the stairs. After a minute, they asked if I minded if they took the elevator. I gave them a look to make sure they knew that, yeah, I fucking mind. I made it clear that they were bothering me, then I pulled the chair away so they could get in.

            While I waited for the elevator, one of my phones rang. It was the blue one that had not worked in 2 years. I had been carrying the blue phone and the red phone with me since Friday. The red phone actually did work. Luckily, all my calls had been coming in on the magic blue one.
            It was Jeff. He told me that all the treasure finder friends were going to invest in some conglomerate, or maybe it was a corporation? Doesn't matter because Jeff had already made the absolute dumbest choice of his life. He made me CEO of the corpomerate, or conglomeration, or whatever the hell it's called. How could we fail when the guy running the show is the worst decision maker since Eve decided to take a bite out of that Granny Smith?  Jeff told me that he made me CEO because he wanted to give me a chance to turn my wasted life around. He still never explained what this, um, uhh, I'm just going to refer to it as the fucking "company". That way you won't get confused by my big business jargon. I accepted this most vital of roles without even thinking about asking just what exactly this  "fucking company" of mine would be doing. Basically, we'd be turning millions into billions, which sounded profitable to me.
            "Thanks, bro. Thank you for having faith in me after all the mistakes I've made. I'll dedicate my life to making this thing work. But I'm kind of the middle of some bullshit with my grandmother right now so I'll have to talk to you later". I hung up. What could he say? I was his boss now. I was "Jimmy Mac: CEO". The fucking Company's Emperor... Organizer (I think?).

            This CEO lacked a mind for business as well as the muscles and common sense of a mover. I started with the chair nonsense again. Still no luck. I could have a used a gallon of Astroglide and still wouldn't have been able to fit that huge thing into such a tight space ; )
            I would pay to see that footage from the lobby security camera. You know that shit would be on YouTube.
            Just as I was giving up, the elevator opened. I pulled the chair away so my uncle could bring my grandmother out. He had found a dolly to strap her to. He wheeled her out on it as if she was Hannibal Lechter minus that creepy mask.
            I peace'd out and went back to my apartment.

            My dickhead friends had left without saying goodbye so I went in my room and laid down. I was stoked to find that my cable was working for the first time in months. Only one channel, but that was cool. It happened to be showing one of my all time favorite films, Vincent Gallo's flawed masterpiece about blown potential called Buffalo '66. I had seen this movie several times, but I could not remember seeing this sequence before. The film scrolled vertically from bottom to top of the screen. I was amazed at this seamless montage of the main character's numerous failed attempts at finding his identity. As the film scrolled, he was shown going through one phase after another, unable to discover a social role that he was comfortable in.
            As I watched this imaginary director's cut that was really about me, I faded out.

            When my eyes opened, I saw my friend, Eric, sitting on the floor with my brother, who was suddenly 10 years old again. Even though he was really 18, I thought nothing of it. Eric was sorting through my small mountain of dirty laundry on the floor. He was showing my brother how to dress like a rock star. Once my brother realized I was awake, he looked at me, proud of his outfit that fit as snug as a 3-person tent draped over the shoulders of a 5 foot scarecrow.
            "Don't I look like a rock star?" he asked.
            Poor kid. He looked like a caricature of the lead singer of some 80's glam rock band who borrowed his outfit from his obese roadie.
           "Yeah, you look cool" I tell him. I really wanted to ask Eric why the fuck is he playing dress up with my little brother?

            I realize that my movie is over. This unknown channel was now showing amateur music videos. I guess I'm only insulting myself by calling the videos "amateur" since I was the genius behind them. My first piece of shit video was an Enter Sandman rip off. I laid there watching this metal band playing and sucking. I look a little closer to see the face hidden behind the ridiculously long hair that made Slash look like a Marine. I realize that it's Eric playing guitar.
            "Eric, you're on tv".
            He turns and looks.
            "Oh yeah. This is from when I was in a metal band in the 80's".
            I forget the band's name. You most likely never heard of them. They only played gigs in very small places, like my brain.
            After a distorted guitar solo and some dark lyrics I was making up as quickly as they were being sung,  my very first music video mercifully came to an end. This channel's content made the natural transition from 80's cheese to mozzarella. It was a no budget commercial for a local imaginary Italian restaurant called Shazio. It should have been called Mafi-O-So-Gay. Some awful song played over shots of people eating, dancing, and pretending to be a having a lotza funza. It's full of guys who look like Big Pussy but clearly do not like any sized pussy. One after another that?... nessuno me lo ficca in culo! There he goes again. It's Eric. He's sharing a romantic candlelit dinner and a bottle of wine with his date. In a moment of undeniable brilliance, the editor perfectly times it so that as the song abruptly stops, Eric turns and looks directly at the camera, opens his closed hand as if he were David Copperfield spreading pixie dust, as he says,"Shazio!" as if to leave no doubt in the viewer's mind that this place is the shit...if you're a closeted confused mobster.
            "Dude, you're in this commercial'.
            He turns towards the tv again.
            "Oh yeah. That's my friend's restaurant. We should go" he tells me.
            Too bad I'm busy that night.

            After this ridiculous commercial that I created, it's back to another music video with bad lighting. It is some 3 member reggae band in a small hotel room. They were playing on an undoubtedly bedbug infested queen sized Serta that served as a stage while stoners sat mesmerized on the floor. I remember actually liking this song. Then I notice one of the twins sitting on the floor. They are identical twins, so don't ask me how I knew which one she was.
            "Look, that's Betsy!" As soon as I say this, Betsy walks into my bedroom and looks at the tv.
            "Oh yeah, I remember this. I got high with those guys".
            Hopefully some weed was the only thing she smoked of theirs. 
            I had not seen her since we got back from Vegas on Saturday morning, but here she was. She seemed really at home so I started to think that maybe she had been shacking up with me since we got back. I decided against asking her how long she had been there. I had not been with a woman in over a year, so I wasn't going to cockblock myself, just in case we were sleeping together and I couldn't remember.
              A few minutes later, I faded out again.


Dec 7, 2011

The Nitty Gritty, 23: If I'm Dying, I'm Lying

Well its been building up inside of me
For oh I don't know how long
I don't know why
But I keep thinking
Something's bound to go wrong
-Brian Wilson, Don't Worry Baby 


            Nothing would ever be the same after today.
            This day had been in the works for some time. The days, the months, the years. They all lead up to today.
            Hard to nail down exactly when this timeline started.
            Thursday? Friday?
            Nearly 6 days is a long time to walk around completely out of touch with reality without someone noticing.
            Nearly 6 months is a long time to go for someone not sleeping.
            November... 2008?
            Nearly 2 years of clinical depression is a long time to go without seeing someone.
            Summer... 2003?
            Nearly 30,000 pills is a lot of pharmaceuticals to abuse without someone dying.
            Dying was about the only thing I had not done yet.
            Part of me would die before Wednesday surrendered to Thursday. The rest of me would have to wait. That day will come, just as inevitably as this day would. Just a matter of time.
            Like any other day, the sun would go down, but today, I would get there first.  
            The day that divides the week.
            The day when we convince ourselves that everything will be okay for the rest of the week if we can just find a way of surviving today.
            Wednesday. September 7th, 2010.
            The day that divided my life.
            The day I convinced myself that, even if I survived today, nothing would ever be okay for the rest of my life.

            Hump day.
            Somehow, you survived Monday and Tuesday. It all gets better after Wednesday. At least when you wake up on Thursday, you can tell yourself that tomorrow is Friday. And on Friday, you convince yourself that you will make the most of the weekend. You tell yourself this because it makes bearable the unbearable thought of starting this madness again on Monday.
            The weekend, the payday, the Happy Hour, the concert, the movie, the playoff game, the birthday, the long weekend, the holiday, the vacation, the Summer, the graduation, the wedding, the career, the retirement.
            These momentary happy endings that you think may make the rest of it all worth it.
            These events that you need to look forward to in order to make it through your days, and your weeks, and your months, and your years.
            The things that help you make it through your life.
            The lies we tell ourselves just to get by.
            These lies we need to stop us from killing ourselves and each other.
            But they don't.
            The lies are not enough.
            The lies help...until they kill us.
            The truth hurts...until it saves us.
            Once I ran out of money for drugs, I could not lie to myself any longer. I had to face the awful truth that I saw in my bathroom mirror. The truth, the shame, the regrets, the pain, the depression, the insomnia, and the hopelessness had become too much to take. The truth hurt so bad that my mind began to lie to me. Delusions and hallucinations were now the truth. Nobody had been around to tell me any different.
            Today they would try.
            People who did not know me would try to convince me that my truths were lies. People who loved me would try to convince me that their lies were the truth.
            I would not react well to either.
            I was was not going to accept what they would try to tell me.
            It was not the truth.
            It was all lies.
            It was hump day.
            It was Wednesday.


Dec 1, 2011

The Nitty Gritty, 22: People in Hell Want Ice Water

We have now left reason and sanity.
Next stop, Looneyville.
Jim Butcher, Grave Peril                                  

            It was obvious that Mark was nervous as he double checked, and then triple checked his equipment.
            I ask how he is going to mark the treasure as our discovery. He shows me a small flag that he will stick in the sand. I can only hope the other treasure hunters don't come along and pull out our flag and replace it with their own. He seems to know what he's doing though.
            Mark is worried about me. He tells me I look really bad. I try to explain how thirsty I am. He wants to know that I'll be able to make it until he comes up. After that he will get us back. He shows me a red ball with a flag stuck in it. He tells me to just not let the kayak drift too far away from the flag. He throws it into the water. The floating flag  is attached to him by a rope. He pulls his mask over his face.
            He knows there is a good chance that when he gets back to the surface, I may have drifted out of sight. If that happens, he knows he will be too far from land to make it back.
            He needs me to show a little confidence.
            I need to tell him I am okay.
            I need to lie.
           "Mark. Don't worry. I'll be here. I promise."
           Cooler than Steve McQueen, he says,"I know you will, you're Jimmy Mac."
           Mark puts his mouthpiece in and falls back into the ocean.
           As soon as he was gone, I realized how much of a better person Mark was than I had ever been.
           His last words to me would have been worth going out on.
           I really hoped that my last words to him had not been a lie.
           I really wished that it was not too late to tell him what I now knew.
           He was a hero.

            Roughly 8 seconds after Mark dove down to make his mark in maritime history, the seas got rough and the rain and thunder started. Without turning my delusion into some kind of Old Man and the Sea or Moby Dick type epic, suffice to say I saved the day by paddling with everything I had against the crashing waves in a circle around the floating flag...until I passed out...and Mark got back.
            He got in the kayak and said he planted the flag and the treasure was ours.
            Wow. I can't believe I really thought this shit was happening. Sometimes I forget how nuts I was until I write something like "the treasure was ours". Wow.

            Mark started paddling towards land.
            I laid back in exhaustion. I didn't have to paddle so my mind started wandering. Just like when I could only think about killer sharks, I now could only think of killer beverages. 
            A nice glass of homemade iced tea or one of those tall light green cans of Arizona Iced Tea with ginseng and honey would be the greatest thing ever.
            A tall can of Arizona Lemonade or a glass of homemade lemonade would be pretty amazing.
            Even better would be mixing the iced tea and lemonade in a nice big glass pitcher for a homemade Arnold Palmer. That would be fantastic.
            Or just a tall Arizona can of an Arizona Arnold Palmer would be terrific.
            Or even just a glass of Arnold Palmer's ass sweat would be fine.
            Something, anything to quench this thirst.
            Holy shit.
            Nothing would be better.
            I don't know the name of the researcher who invented Gatorade at University of Florida,  but that man is a saint.
            Oh how do I love thee?
            Let me count the flavors:
            Arctic or Alpine uhh.. Amazing
            Whitewater... Whatever
            Purple...Painkiller Purple, maybe?
            Citrus "Crack Cocaine" Cooler
            Blue...Blue?...Better Than A Blowjob Blue, that's right
            Orange.. .Orange You Glad You Are Not Dying of Dehydration?    
            Kool Aid.
            Any powder you can imbibe if you mix it with water.
            Whoever the scientist was to first mix 2 hydrogen atoms  with 1 oxygen atom was a goddamn genius.
            He deserves a special place in Heaven.
            Bottled water.
            That last  ice cold one that you find hidden in the back of the refrigerator, a refrigerator that also has water and cubed ice and crushed ice. Instead of wasting time trying to figure out if that light goes out when the fridge door closes, I should have been trying to figure out if that water ever stops coming out of the freezer door.
            How is it that something so life saving is so free? I will never waste a precious drop.
            A glass of  ice water.
            The kind they give you as soon as you sit down at a restaurant, that you don't even have to ask for, that never gets empty before they refill it from that silver pitcher that is so icy cold that the server has a cloth napkin  wrapped around the handle, and the sound it makes as the glass bottom gets hit with ice cubes small enough to swallow without choking.
            I've never had Spanish water but I bet it's amazing.
            Even the kind you're not supposed to drink in Mexico.
            I say "Chinga tu madre!" when they say "Don't drink the water".
            I suddenly hate that Dave Matthews song.
            I suddenly love that Adam Sandler movie.
            I'm delirious.
            I need water.

           "He's delirious. He needs water!" I hear Mark say.
            Water? I open my eyes and see my friends who were waiting for us on land. Jeff puts the bottle to my lips. I grab it and chug it until it's gone.
           "I need another one".
           "That's all we had" Jeff tells me.
           "That's it?
            I raise my head to see where we are. We're in a parking lot of a grocery store...that is closed. I know there is a corner store across the street. I motion for Jeff to come closer, like I have a secret..
           "Dude, I don't have any money" I tell him,"Can you go over to Kwik Stop and get me like 5 Gatorades?"
            Kwik Stop was closed too.

            I was still delirious. I went on and on about the amazing lives we would all have, how we would be able to enjoy life the way few men in history ever had, how we should buy an island and open a resort where we would be kings, and how our adventure was like something from a Hemingway novel.
            I'm pretty sure that my delusional heroics stemmed from my fascination with Hemingway.
            After rambling for a few minutes, Angel said,"Man, you need to write this shit down".
            I started talking about how I finally did something great in my life. Then it hit me that my triumph came just 2 days after my father died. For the first time since I was 10 years old, I had done something that he would be proud of.  I said how I wished I could tell him about my heroics.
           "He knows" someone said.

            We sat around talking about what we were going to do with our riches.
            Jeff pulled me aside. He reminded me that Anuj had murdered Mark's ex girlfriend. Mark still loved her and was tortured not knowing who her killer was. We saw the inevitability of Mark finding out eventually. This would cause a problem for all the partners. I agreed with Jeff that we needed to tell Mark.
            After Mark flipped out, we had to kick Anuj out of the group. We told him we would see that he still got something for his effort, but for now he should stay away.

            After everyone went home, Mark and I went to the closest bar, Flanigans. I was still severely dehydrated.  As soon as we got there Mark disappeared to look for someone he knew who worked there.
            I walked into the bar area to get some water and a Coke.
            As soon as I walked in, I could not believe what I saw.
            After the last few days, nothing should have shocked me.
            My father had died 2 days earlier.
            My mom is at the bar.
            She is obviously drunk on wine.
            She is full on making out with some guy at the bar.
            I turned back before they could see me. I would deal with it after I got hydrated.
            I was too weak to fight anyway. Anybody would have kicked my ass in my condition.
            All I could think was she could not have met someone in 2 days. She must have known this guy from when my father was in prison.
            My paranoid conspiracy theory was beginning to take shape.
            The next day, in reality, I spoke to my mom.
            I accused her of having an affair.
            She would deny it of course.
            But I saw her.

            There were some old folks sitting around waiting for tables.
            I walked up to the hostess, who I created in my mind to antagonize the shit out of me.       
           "Hey, I really need some water. I can't explain what I've been through. Just please get me some water".
            She said she was a hostess, not a server.
           "I know. I just can't wait to be seated  to get some water".
            She repeated that she was a hostess not a server. I would have to wait for a table since I couldn't go to the bar.
           "Can you please have a server get me some then? I'm so fucking dehydrated".
            She said not after I cursed at her. I told her I didn't mean to. I just really needed water immediately. I asked her to please just seat me ahead of everyone so I could order some.
            She refused.
            A server walked by so I asked her if she would please get me some water.
            The hostess told her not to serve me because I was rude and I had cursed at her.
            Eventually, she told every server to not serve me.
            I had to get out of there but Mark was nowhere to be found. I decided to lay down in the middle of the floor.
           The hostess started instigating me. When a second hostess arrived, she immediately started talking shit about me so I could hear. Of course, she told her not to let anyone serve me. I tried to ignore her. She started saying stuff to me like I probably never had a girlfriend and no girl would go out with someone like me.
            I kept asking her to just please stop.
            She didn't.
            I finally got up and approached the hostess station.
           "Look I'm sorry I cursed. I wasn't cursing at you,  I am just really on edge. I have never been so thirsty in my life. You have no idea how this feels. It's like I swallowed a desert. Look, I'm just waiting for my friend and then I'm going to leave. I'm begging you for some water".
            She began to talk with a robot voice.
            I can still hear her say it.
           "When you have a pretty waitress, do you wonder what it would be like if she touched your penis?"
            I was dumbfounded.
           "What the fuck? What is your problem? Are you fucking retarded? Seriously, I'm not even trying to be rude or funny. You don't look it, but you have to be slow or something".
            I still remember how absurd I thought this was.
            She starts her Small Wonder robotic shit again.
           "Do you go home and picture your waitress naked and masturbate?"
             Again, I am stunned.
            "Are you fucking kidding me? Do you have any idea how dumb you are?"
             She doesn't. She drops the android act.
            "I'm not dumb. My boyfriend tells me I'm smart. And that I'm pretty".
             I'm raging.
            "Then your boyfriend is an idiot too! You are a pretty girl, but seriously, I have never heard anyone say anything even remotely as stupid as the shit you are saying".
           "You're stupid" she says like some 5 year old brat.
           "I'm not the one talking like a fucking robot". I mimic her robot voice, "Do you think about your waitress touching your penis?" I drop the robonics. "Do you have any clue how much of a moron you are?"
             Besides talking like a robot, now she adds the upper body movements.
            "People like it when I do my robot".
             She continues the movements and talking nonsense as if she's gonna win me over with her performance. I give up.

             If I was not hallucinating all of this, I most likely would have left the restaurant by now.
            "I don't even know why I'm talking to you" I say. I go sit down.
            "You're ugly", she says.
            "I'm ugly, ok".
            Come on, Mark. I need to get away from this girl.
            She starts telling me that I wish I could have a girlfriend like her.
            I practically beg her to please just leave me alone.
            I tell her as soon as my friend reappears, I'm leaving.
            "You don't have any friends. Who would be friends with you".
             Why is this girl tormenting me like this?
             Why did I create this girl to torment me?
             Why am I putting these words in her mouth?

            She finally walked away from her station. I saw a new server and asked her to please grab me some water and she said she would. Please hurry back.
            The hostess got back first. I would not even look at her
            The server was coming back with a huge glass of ice water. The hostess noticed my anticipation and she turned and snatched my water off the tray and told the server not to serve me. She told her to take the water back to the kitchen.            
            "Are you serious?" I'm almost in tears from frustration."Why are you doing this?"
            She said because I was a jerk and she didn't like me.
            "You know what? I never use this word, but you are a fucking cunt".
            She was appalled. She got loud and the manager came and wanted to know what was going on.
            "Your hostess is a moron. First of all, she acts like some goddamn robot, then she's asking me shit like if I imagine my waitress touching my penis and do I masturbate to her".
             Long story short.
             She got fired.

            Mark was nowhere to be found. I got a call on my magic cell phone. It was my cousin, the police officer in Philly who got me involved with the pimp, prostitutes, and almost a night in jail. He said he needed me to come back to Philly and do the drug deal I promised Pimp Daddy I'd do. I told him there was no way in hell I was dealing with any of that shit. He told me it was going to be some undercover thing and that I had been approved as an undercover and I just needed to be sworn in. Then we were going to hit the streets. He said it was going to be a big weekend of busts. I told him good luck because I was not coming back and to never call me again.

            A few minutes later, on my real phone and in reality, I called a drug dealer friend of mine. In my world, I was still in Flanigans. In the real world, not a clue. I left him a message letting him know that if he had any deals happening that weekend that he should cancel because the cops knew everything going down this weekend. A week later, I was checking my messages (on my working phone). He left me a voice mail wanting to know what I was talking about on my message. He always changed phone numbers, and by the time I tried to call and let him know that I was out of my mind, he had changed his number. I never spoke to him again.
            Mark finally returned from wherever. I was pissed and demanded we leave right then. I told him my mom was drunk and making out with some guy at the bar. He kept going around starting random conversations until I started freaking out.
            The next thing I remember was being locked in the cabin of his boat. Besides me begging for water, this was reminiscent of when he would not let me in my apartment the day my dad died. I kept pleading for him to open the door, calling him an asshole, and saying he was not really my friend. He just kept telling me he'd let me out when we got to my place because I was out of control. I was too pissed off to ask him why we did not use this boat, with it's engine and an anchor, instead of a friggin kayak to find our treasure bullshit.
            That was the last thing I remember from Tuesday.
            Wednesday was when my roommate finally figured it might be a good time to let my family and best friend know that I had been talking to people who were not there....since Friday. 
            Wednesday would be the day my reality would collide with the reality of  everyone else.
            But in my delusional mind, they were the crazy ones.
            I was fine. I was a victim of their conspiracies.
            I was just caught in their web of lies and deceit.
            They were the ones who made me into the enemy.