November 21, 2004

Heat Wave

It had been a long summer. I can’t remember whether it was an “el niño” year, or a “la niña”, but it was one of the fatherless cocksuckers, and the weather was hotter than it had been for a hundred years. If recollection serves – which, I’ll warn you, it may not , because I feel certain I was pretty stoned the whole time – the temperature had been over one hundred degrees Fahrenheit every single day for something like forty-two contiguous days. Moreover, this asphalt-melting heat wave was aided and abetted by an unrelenting humidity that pegged the gauge, even at night. Ah, the southland, my home, sweet home. Hogar, dulce Hogar!

You have to understand that when the weather gets like this in a poor southern town, people start to get kind of crazy. Crime rates skyrocket. Racial tensions run high. Gang activity increases, and the freaks, like me, tend to come out at night. The heat agitates us natives, you see; you try living in an unairconditioned old house or apartment in such conditions and see how immune you are. Yankees are usually the first to crack, followed by Europeans – no tolerance for it at all. Before you can say Jack Rabbit (mmm, Jack Rabit), they’re wandering the streets in black socks and Birkenstock sandals, looking to drink (or eat, or smoke, or snort) away the heat, just like everyone else.

One evening stands out for me with all the power and sensuality of a dream. We’d been to several parties that night, Cecelia and I, along with the rest of our Usual Suspects – Ming Ho, the stunning half-Chinese, half-German, ex-runway-model turned medical doctor; Fred, the boy I was fucking at the time; Dennis and Sal, his friends from law school; and Emily, with whom I played music. As usual - Spice Must Flow - I was about nine sheets to the wind by last call. Coke in the bathroom. Joint in the alleyway. Discreet, tiny, intramuscular morphine pop in the ass, by the Doc. Cocktails all night. I was soaring, people – I promise you, I was feeling absolutely no pain whatsoever.

When the bars closed down, Fred and I snuck away to his house to do a few lines and engage in a torrid fuck in the dewy grass of the garden. We’d been pawing at each other all night, but our “relationship” was a thinly-veiled “secret” affair; it made both of us all the hotter knowing we had to slink around to do our dirty work. Later, after we’d cleaned ourselves up a bit, we walked down the street to join the rest of our pre-coital party in a rousing game of Marco Polo in the swimming pool at Cecelia’s house. Honey, there were probably thirty buck-nekkid beautiful people in that pool when we got there; with squinty eyes, by the light of the quarter-moon, it could have been a gathering on Olympus. Someone had brought along a case of wine and a big bag of grapes; these sybarites were lolling around in the water, feeding each other grapes and passing bottles of wine, the people on the concrete apron around the pool carefully placing joints between the lips of the bathers. It was a decadent scene, positively godless and heathen. It was heavenly, to my untutored eyes.

Fred and I grinned at each other, and started dropping clothes. I laid my tee-shirt, my panties, and my cutoff shorts in a pile by my Doc Martens, and hit the water running, sending a cascade of water over a few of my fellow-bathers. Before long, we were playing Sharks and Minnows, a game at which I excel. I can – or could, in those days - hold my breath forever; I’d slide into the pool, swimming straight to the bottom. There I’d flatten myself to the tile and propel myself across with tiny mermaid kicks, then resurface at the other side, clinging to the lip of the pool, safe. It worked every time, especially when your opponents are as fucked up as mine were. Except…

…drunk old Dennis (whom, incidentally, I was to date, and come within an inch of marrying ten years later) decided to dive in, over my head, and start swimming with a furious kick. He accidentally kicked me right in the snoot, leaving me gagging and spitting, partially filling my lungs with water. I was swimming at a depth of about six feet, but I surfaced as quickly as I could, calling out, “Hey…guys? Is my nose bleeding?”

A stunned silence silence fell. I looked a Fred, who recoiled in absolute horror. Cecelia rushed over, dragging me out of the pool, holding a dry towel up to my face, a dry towel on which generous spurts of blood quickly became visible. Ming Ho took one look at me and pronounced my nose broken. Holding me upright between them, they walked me into the house and iced my face.

“You need to go to the hospital,” said Ming Ho.

“No shit, she needs to go to the hospital,” snapped Cecelia, pacing around the living room.

“Mrpohnurfgham,” I said, behind my towel.

“The problem is,” continued Ming Ho, with a nasty look at Cecelia, “I can tell you right now that they are going to want to set your nose at the hospital. It’s either that now or reconstructive rhinoplasty later – and we all know that you don’t have the money for that right now.” She put her finger on my chin, and turned my face to hers. “We need to get you really, really, really plastered before we do this, because they’re going to put the tough-love on you over at Mercy Hospital. I know those bastards. And the nuns – don’t get me started on those sadistic old bitches. They’ll cut you, just for fun, just because they'll suspect you might have actually seen a penis...”

As Ming Ho stood there declaiming on the evils of the Sisters of Mercy and reliving her boarding-school girlhood, Cecelia, always a woman of action, dumped a half-gram of coke on the dining-room table. I put most of it up my nose. I choked down a couple of shots of tequila. I took another one of Doc’s special morphine shots, and then she drove me to the hospital. Doc had been right; the doctor on call in the emergency room gave me the choice of what he called a “manual re-set”, or later surgery. I opted for the former – two rods shoved up into my sinuses and a smack with a metal thing, followed by some screaming and other histrionics on my part – and my nose was good as new. They bandaged me up and sent me home. It was about four-thirty a.m. when I finally got to sleep.

I woke up an hour later, with an uninvited person climbing into my bed.

Vick, a local "artist" (read: socially- maladjusted drug addict with delusions of sculpture) who'd been a) at the party earlier that night, and b) trying to get into my pants for the better part of a year, climbed in my window in the night, thinking that in my current, weakened condition, he might be able to get a better shot at poking me. I think he fancied himself the old tiger, picking off the weakest of the herd. Obviously, the tiger was much higher than I was - you know your Queenie - I pulled a .22 pistol from my nightstand drawer and threatened to shoot him in the nuts if he didn't leave. As he scampered down the driveway with his tail between his legs, I limped around closing and locking all my windows and doors, gulping oxygen through my swollen membranes. Goodbye, slightest breath of fresh air, adiós, breeze. At least I could sleep unmolested.

When I woke up later in the morning, I had the hangover of the century. As you might imagine, I was also enjoying a good deal of maxilliofacial pain. Bloody snot filled my nose-bandages as I vomited up those last two ill-advised tequila shots, and to add insult to injury, it was about a thousand degrees in my “historic district” (read: unmodernized) apartment. I was miserable. I hurt so much I had to check into a hotel in town just for the air-conditioner. I also had to make do with sub-standard painkillers during my recovery; Ming Ho yanked my pain-pill prescription from me because I'd done the morphine the night before. "Sorry, Charlie!" she said, in her sing-song voice. "You take these now, your resistance is down because of the hard stuff, you get addicted to 'em. You played your pill-allotment away; so now, when you really need it, you're going to suffer!"

The moral of the story? There is an old proverb that goes, “Take what you want – then pay for it.” For every euphoric high, there is an equally rotten low – and sometimes, one follows right on the heels of the other, just like a shadow.

One final note:

Acidman can call me a liar all he wants, the horny old goat; the sad thing here is that every word that drops from your friend Queenie's lips is the unvarnished, mortal truth. Now, a few of you have sent me e-mails telling me how strange this blog is - well, here's your explanation why. I've lived in the southland for most of my life and I’m telling you, strange things happen in the heat.

Posted by Queenie at November 21, 2004 10:51 PM
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