sunday with blue: sick with recklessness
by Joshua Mohr
Erin and I are at brunch, talking arrogantly about terminal diseases. You can do that when you don't have any. I'm talking a tad more miserably than usual; I'm mad because the smoked salmon in my omelet tastes like a campfire.
Erin says, "Why do you have to say it like that? It isn't like Dean has to die because he's HIV positive. They even took him off his meds. Look at Magic Johnson."
"A millionaire sports icon is probably not the universal barometer," I retort. "I ordered this with fruit, not house potatoes."
"Everyone is going to die though."
"Don't you think he's dying a little faster?"
"No, not really. You're a smoker."
"Just a social one."
I'm a secretary at an ad agency, and I answer the phones of celebrities. They're really important; their asses smell like cappuccinos. I have to get to the office an hour before everyone else to brew the coffee and distribute faxes. Sometimes I brew the regular coffee in the decaf container; I love to watch celebrities sweat. Other days I don't make any caffeine at all, and they walk around sleepy and docile like cows.
Every Tuesday, before anyone is in the office yet, I go into the bathroom and violently floss my teeth; I only do it once a week so my gums will always bleed. Then I brush them and spit the pink paste into the toilet. It bubbles and thrashes like it has an opinion.
Today, a phone solicitor, Guy, from the Natural Resources Defense Council called to warn me about another rolling ecological travesty. "Do you know about the struggle between conservation and development going on in the Jack Morrow Hills?" He asked.
"Wyoming. It's a desert."
"Wyoming's a desert? I'd no idea, Guy."
"No, Jack Morrow is."
"Who's Jack Morrow?"
"The desert. He's got natural gas in him. The new President wants to mine and drill Mr. Morrow. We've got to do something about it."
"What did Gassy Jack ever do to the President?"
"It's extortion," Guy says. "The President says we can't run on coal forever."
"Extorting a desert? What's next!"
Felisha and I went out for a drink last Thursday. I asked her out the day before, but she had German class. I said, "Speak a little German to me, meine fraulein."
"Ich heisse Felisha. Es tut mir leid."
"So what does it mean?"
"They mean 'my name is Felisha' and 'I'm sorry.' My teacher says they're the most important things to learn how to say."
We're both drinking black russians so I asked, "Have you ever seen one, a Black Russian?"
"No but I've never been there. Too many communists still."
"What's wrong with communists?"
"They can't think for themselves. They let Karl Marx do all the talking."
I asked Felisha out because I wanted to have sex with her. She's got green eyes and her head is shaved smooth and jet; she could be an Egyptian painting.
"I've never slept with a white boy before."
"White hot," I said, selling myself. "When something is white hot, it's the hottest it can possibly be."
"I'll take your word for it. Did you know that my people once ruled a great empire between Egypt and Ethiopia? I've got a pussy like a pastrami sandwich."
"I love pastrami."
Back at the office I send a group everyone email about Gassy Jack. The whole world needs to know what's being done to our deserts. First Salt Lake City's built, now this. It's all Sam Brannan's fault, really; if he was more eloquent the Mormons would have ended up in San Francisco.
I run to the copier and make 150 xerox copies of the SAVE GASSY JACK manifesto Guy emailed to me. It's really quite an interesting read. I put a copy on everyone's chair, including the celebrities. I even rub their phone receivers in my ass crack. Zoe has a sprawling, planted geranium in her office named Clyde that she asked me to water. I piss on it almost every morning except those days I'm too dehydrated from last night's whiskey. I thought it would kill Clyde, but he's doing better than ever, growing like a weed. Maybe my byproducts are a great, psychotic fertilizer; maybe I could make a fortune.
I walk through the building; still no one's here, not even Felisha who's a speed freak. Usually she's at her desk chewing her tongue. It makes a blunt, lifeless noise like a dentist's office. I find thirteen other plants and piss on all of them. I'll get to the bottom of this yet.
Felisha's apartment looked like the inside of a clock. She was rebuilding and reassembling everything. All the parts of a stapler were on the kitchen table. The toaster was plugged-in but gutted. The gears from a mountain bike were on the floor. The refrigerator door was leaning against the stove, unattached and bobbing; her food was rotting; the light was on. The whole room smelled like chicken enchiladas.
Felisha went to take a shower. She didn't like to take them, she said, because the water reminded her of flies crawling on her face. But she had to shower before sex; sweat nauseated her. She smiled coyly at me and said, "No one likes sweaty pastrami."
I sat down on the couch, just missing the motor of an electric pencil sharpener. I flipped on the TV. Porn came on. There was a woman blowing a hairy man, while she's humming The Battle Hymn of the Republic. I love that song. She could work in an ad agency, multi-tasking like that.
After her shower, Felisha walked in wearing a thin white robe that looked like fog; it was open and her nipples were big, moist, purple. She was carrying a bottle of vanilla-scented body lotion and asked if I wanted to have my feet massaged. She knelt in front of me. The porn was still going. Felisha took my left foot, kissed in between my toes, and applied a thick squirt of the lotion. It tickled, and it was cold. Everyone should have a nubian geisha girl.
The hairy man loved the girl's humming as much as I did; right as she mumbled the truth is marching on, he teemed his raised balls all over her chin and neck. She didn't really enunciate. It sounded like she was deaf.
Zoe is smiling like she's a model--that smile that's so contrived it almost looks unintentional. "Clyde is doing wonderfully," she says. "What's your secret?"
"I piss on Clyde."
"Honestly, that mouth of yours."
Zoe is short and has a wispy mustache; I wonder if she'd grow if I pissed on her too. "You know, Zoe, I'm actually looking to do some freelance gardening. If you know of anyone in need, please let me know."
"The girls would just adore you. I'll call them right now. What's this I hear about Gassy Jack being extorted?"
"Nothing's sacred, Zoe. We're all vulnerable. All potential victims. All we can do is take our multi-vitamins and wait for calamity."
Zoe turns with a thick sigh and walks away. She doesn't really like to talk to me that much. She's standing in the doorway of her office, and decides to add, "I'll call the girls anyway. But try not to say things like that. It's a little scary. Too doomsday."
"Tell that to Gassy Jack."
Erin and I walk to the park. It's hot out, and Erin thinks that maybe this is the first day of spring. I tell her that the groundhog saw its shadow. "How do they know if he sees it or not?" She asks.
"That's between the bureaucrats and the groundhog. Regardless, now there's six more weeks of winter."
"I think they're wrong this year. This feels like spring. You can actually smell the trees. They've been there all winter long, why can't you smell them when it's cold?"
Why does she always ask such good questions?
There's a drum circle in the park. I think it's annoying, but she loves it, thinks it's sexy. "Hand drums remind me of a spanking," she purrs. Hand drums remind me that I don't have any rhythm, I think.
We sit on the grass; I complain again, this time that everything here smells like dog shit. All around us pretty gay boys lye on blankets, kiss, and rub each other's bare chests. One guy is as hairy as a wolverine, but he's got the bologna patch on top of his head. And finally I ask a good question: "Why is the only hair that men lose on their heads?"
"It must be complicated," she answers, "because most scientists are men. They'd have fixed it if they could."
"Maybe I should go over there and piss on his head."
"I piss on Clyde, and he's growing like an exponent."
We do it five times a week now. My nubian geisha girl smokes a cigarette, naked, and says, "You're right. You are white hot. We fuck exquisitely. It's amazing." A thick, red shoelace still dangles from her throat. She swats at it playfully. "It cut off the blood flow but never the oxygen. I felt high. But better. Better than high."
"Sex is a remedy," I say and grab the cigarette out of her hand; as long as we're together, this is a social situation. I can smoke like a gross polluter.
Recklessness, I think now, isn't a contagion. It's a code like the stock market. No one will ever figure it out.
At work now I carry a spray bottle full of my piss. I wrote on it in a brackish calligraphy GASSY JACK'S PANIC. I don't tell anyone, but PANIC is actually an acronym: PISS AND NEW INCHES COME. I'm pissing on all sorts of things around the office now. It only seems to affect the plants though. Two of Zoe's friends are paying me $50 a month to tame and cultivate their gardens. All I do is walk around methodically, guzzling gallons of water and pissing nonstop.
Maybe I can't save Gassy Jack. Maybe I can't make that much of a difference before Dean and I die. But at least the plants will grow. And that's more than anyone really expected me to do in the first place.
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