It was the Rum
Darkness has blotted out the monitor and the last of the rum and ice have mingled together in the swirling of the glass, and they two are now one, gliding down the passage toward my stomach. In short they will be coursing together forever, passing enjoined through the capillaries in my stomach and into the blood where they will course through my body and finally into my kidneys where they will be filtered and excreted through the ureters into the bladder, and presto – into the porcelain bowl and beyond. Together, forever, like so many ill sought friendships, relationships, marriages, and connivings, they start out with the best of intent and end-up pissed away with nothing to show for their former existence.
The snifter fell to the floor that night, rendered into pieces by natural physics; even leaded glass fails against fire hardened tiles that were made to withstand the drumming of horses hooves. Somewhere in the origins of these thoughts are the seeds of yet other thoughts that have been left dry for want of a humid air upon my roasted skin. I am ill. My brain feels afire and refuses to think clearly…so I will sleep….
Mist covered islands of shimmering green faded in and out of my wandering mind. These many miles of sand and seclusion started out as peace would, engendering uninterrupted retrospection. My too-busy mind is now slowed and occupied only with the means of escaping this peace and regaining a semblance of normalcy in my life.
I don’t know if I shall ever return to the life I had before descending to this station. I had scouted the parameters of my functioning well before leaving my former position, and to be honest, I am quite alarmed that I had missed something so essentially simple as the one flaw that has brought me here. I didn’t know the individuals with whom I was traveling. I had sought out a skilled land crew and somehow neglected the other travelers. My undoing. Now, between the sand and the fiery orb that is blistering the skin upon my back, I am here, prostrate upon the shimmering earth. The mirage is my constant companion. She never fails me – always there like a faithful hound. At evening, when the sun has rounded the curve of this bleak plain, I can still feel the heat in the sand. The moving air is cool to my fiery skin and with bittersweet emotions, I greet the dark. Last night a sand-snake slithered too near my imagination and, I fear that I must confess, I almost soiled myself in the excitement. I believe it was a sand-snake. I cannot imagine what other godless creature would be shaped as that vile thing was. I could almost hear the snickering from its cold skin as it passed me. “Yes, I remember Eve!” I shouted to the devil himself. I remember her well. I am without all else in the world and find myself oriented only to the past and the existing moments that I am faced with at present. “To endure the moment is to secure the next,” I tell myself through the sand gritting between my finely polished teeth. The damn dentist put so much wax on the things that I could hail a passing aircraft with their shine alone. If, per chance, one might pass me during the coming days.
I live yet. Unbeknownst to me is the reason for this fate. The other travelers perished in the wreck, and the one who moaned still with the propeller against his face, why, he was going to perish soon anyway…. There was no sense trying to carry his burden with my own. Let him find his peace where he may. I am now afforded this lot. To go on or to stay here, resting with my head upon my burned arm, is the dilemma. Go or stay? Which would benefit me the most? To be home in Orleans would suit me fine if the truth were to be known. Even in this ghastly state, memories of the ladies on Canal Street cause a stirring in my loins. Ancestry and inbreeding combined to make me something less than the best socially functioning individual, but my cerebral processes are unmatched. So the wind and the swiftly approaching stars urge to tell no one within their particular earshot.
The trees weep for me tonight for they know that I shall not be there to walk among them in the morning. I have failed them for a week and three days now. They wonder where their master has gone. The house staff should probably be aware of at least the initial news of the accident. Hopefully they know that not all perished in the plane’s foundering. My brother will likely seize what control he may of the business in my absence. Maybe Wallace, the shrew that he is, will prevent a complete takeover and ultimate destruction if my return is delayed for much longer. The darkened pool, long black from the accumulated leaves, has hidden more than one secret in its time. Soon it may hold yet another. The boy had better not wreck things completely or he might find himself not exactly liking his new, eternal home. Robert spoke of his guests to me once in a dream. He cried about the murkiness of his hiding place and that someone kept scratching at him with long, bony fingers. He realized, too late, what would happen to him if he found my ire, and now, too late again, he cries to gain my pleasure.
The plane circled the wreckage for near unto a quarter of an hour before deciding that nothing was stirring there and needing of attention. I believed that was their intent when they left, to not return, as all was quiet there. Within hours, however, a rumbling was heard coming from the western plains, if they can be called that. Somewhere out beyond what I knew was the west of my several horizons, I heard a truck-like rumbling. My patient, near numb mind could discern the movement even though the image of my eye’s transporting was little more than clouded haze. Sandpaper would have been less cruel to my eyes if that were possible. I felt like a sun-dried tomato waiting to be dumped into a stew pot and rehydrated. I longed for the wet of even a boiling pot of water. I longed to rid my nails of the sand’s dust beneath them. The gash on my head was itching more after each night. I could feel something moving up there while I sat motionless. Motionless. Swaying with a weakened constitution. Lacking the law and wherewithal to rouse from the heat-fired stupor. Damnable itching. Even more cursed are the little worms that stick to my fingers as I withdraw them from the wound. Blood and worms, scratching, sandpapered eyes. I feared for what they might find if they drained the pool…but that wouldn’t happen if things went well. In a few weeks I should be sound enough to add more of the trees’ leaves to the living grave just beyond the back-yard garden.
Interminable time did not pass, nor did the humming become louder in any soon approaching moment. Flies huddled among my matted hairs deciding which would copulate with which other one and then lay even more eggs in my bashed noggin. It must have been a helicopter beetle that flew into my ear just then for I heard the loudest ‘whoop whoop’ sound that can be imagined, then screaming and pulsations of some beating against my head. My own fist got lost in the melee, splitting my ear and reopening the wound on my forehead until more blood leaked down my battered face. It was my own voice that I recognized as the screamer. Where did I come from, and why would I be yelling so? A helicopter beetle with wings of fifteen meters when held in one place, left un-spinning just in my one ear. The humming ceased and only tiny feet could be felt, or fingers, pulling or crawling forward, deeper into that waxen canal. Goddam! Stop with that crawling! Who might hear my wretched scream? Who might save the leaves from toppling in against me, more and more. Another basketful is what is needed. Two or three per fall season is what I toss in there. Yes, it stinks for a time, but with rotting cats and opossum in the background, what is one more odiferous sniff to a fine, cultured nose? I think there really is a truck on the horizon now. I think the green shimmering is the forgotten oasis that turned into an army-green colored truck that is surely coming to rescue my poor self. If the drumming were what a diesel would drum, or hum. Robert said that he has never been so alone and scared. Considering that we used to swim in the pool together as kids, I don’t know why he is so uncomfortable down there now. We used to dive for pennies or brass washers that we had stolen from Timothy’s work shed. It couldn’t be anything less than a comfortable place to spend what he’s got left of eternity. Last Easter one of the neighborhood children was caught throwing his colored eggs into the hideous pond and nearly wet himself when I picked him up and offered to join him with his errant treasures. I explained that his scream was from nearly falling into the pool – his hysterical mother liked to have tattooed my face with her hand when I handed her back the nosy brat. “Teach him to stay out of other people’s gardens then, you homely bitch.” I never was fond of houseguests. They always were too nosy, nearly discovering what made the bumps in the nights.
No manna fell from the desert skies during the night. Morning found me quaking with hunger and thirst as I dared to open my eyes, almost fearful for what I might behold. There was nothing more than the sand and its cousins. Last night Robert visited my sanity uninvited. He was pulling and tugging at it as if to drag me into an abyss of nothingness. He was bluer than I remembered seeing him when last we parted. The pool was a good place, but I am now, in my delirium, having second thoughts. I could have smoked him and then turned him into mulch to be spread in the fields. That would have been fine except that Timothy checks the fires every day and I couldn’t have kept him locked out of the smokehouse for the weeks that it would have taken to get Robert well smoked.
The scratching and crawling in my ear stopped during the night. I think my screaming either killed the burrowing beast, or it finally made it to my brain and is now playing polo up there with one of my loosed marbles. The absent sun spared me some grief, but the night held no rest. I tried to circle back to where the wreckage was and decided, halfway there, that I should have stayed with it from the outset. Searchers would look for the wreck and hope to find the survivors there, or at least not too far away. I wish I had some rum. I wish I had something wet aside from my own blood to drink. Refresh my parched mouth even though it be with the green and black- scummed water from our garden pool.
Like the layers of soft mush coming loose from a bar of soap that was lost in a deep, bubbled bathtub, Robert’s flesh, after weeks of soaking in the fetid pool, began to fall free from its bone and sinew moorings. Flakes and filaments of tissue floated away, plankton-like in the dark storm of the pool. We only needed a spark of lightning to cause new life to form where the old had perished; rather, where the old rested from its perishing. Ever resting, like the sand in my eye-sockets, gritting, scratching and forming abscess-like pockets of gristly tissue that sought to both hold and repulse the orbs of my eyes.
I would that there was a God to strike my slithering form into an eternal lake of fire at this moment. I would that something could remove me from the arid waste of a meaningless existence. Before the tumble through empty sky and final end here in this desert, my life was something to be envied by those around me. At least I felt so. I felt so. Who wouldn’t want to be me? An icicled heart, absolutely sterile of emotion, now, here in the baking sun and unrelenting heat, I am virtually an emotional meniscus, waiting for the slightest breeze or bump of feeling to send me into an uncontrollable weeping frenzy. Thank God there is nobody near enough to hear my baby-like sobbings, though Robert does visit me regularly in my sleep, so he must be near enough.
The threads are gone and the light is out and I can’t see where the stitch went awry.