In A Dither

In bed.

Alone.

The glimmer from my iPad clouds my periphery. Like cigarette smoke did. I push the icons with fingers that tremble and twitch. Spinning a chronicle to people I don’t know.

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Bed spins. Jitters. Sweat solid as syrup. A heart heated.  Fairy feet tapping a trail inside my chest.  Runs. Ventricular tachycardia.  The tremors make copy and paste a tricky task.

Jerks & Jitters.

Every day. Every night. 365 cycles.

Caused by Metoprolol? I don’t know. Doesn’t matter. It’s been replaced. Maybe the Amiodarone? I don’t know. It doesn’t matter. It’s been swapped. A new substitute: Sotalol.

And still I whirl. And still I bolk. And still I heave the emptied.

Every day. Every night. 365 cycles.

Eyes opened. Eyes closed. Twirls. Jitters. Quivers. Quakes. Tangible creepings. Felt fear.

Heartbeats in my ears, in my hands, in my blinks, in my testicles.

Jerks & Jitters.

For years I yearned for the act to be completed by quakes and quivers.  It was the mission of my bed.

Jerks & Jitters.

Every day. Every night. 365 cycles.

Tomorrow EKG at 930.

Tomorrow 10:40 the scrapes and scratches and punctures and pricks from the ablation must be poked and prodded and approved.

Too many jitters & jerks to rest.

Restlessness.

Every day. Every night. 365 cycles.

 

(Photo courtesy of vox.com)

Getting It Off My Chest

extractables-and-leachablesAn IV bag drips into the crook of my left arm. I’m afraid. Ablation. I mull the word through my thoughts. Ablation. Isn’t that a Church word? Latin isn’t catalogued in my mind like it was in my past. Away. Something about away.

His name is Trevor. Kind and gentle. He talks to me as he preps. I ask if I can raise my arm. He says I can’t. I tell him I just want to make the Sign of the Cross. I’ll be awake during the procedure. I want to pray my rosary. I make the Sign of my Faith on the roof of my mouth with my tongue. A technician above my head tells me he’ll say the prayer for me. “In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen,” he recites. I listen for the pitch of ridicule. Absent. The technician is too young for the Latin to be loaded in readiness. “Were you in the seminary?” I ask. “No. Just a lot of years in Catholic schools.” Trevor raises his voice, “I know the Hail Mary in Spanish.” I turn my head to my right and look into his eyes. “8 years in a Catholic school in San Diego,” he offers. I listen to him pray and recognize the words from Spanish 3. “San Diego? Why are you here?” I ask because the day is cold; why would anyone be here without purpose? “The obvious reason,” he says. We laugh. “A woman,” I say. We laugh.

I watch Trevor as he negotiates the electric pink razor over my chest and abdomen. Prepped from thighs to collarbone. The tufts of hair wave and sway beneath the V of his scrub top. Trevor doesn’t manscape. I don’t either. This is only the second time. And neither time I hold the razor.

I think of her. I remember our game. A clawed bathtub sat on a cracked tiled floor haloed by a spackled baseboard. The ceiling dampened and stained by the absence of a fan. “Let me shave your legs!” she giggled. It was a new tease for her. We were young. Sex was as much about the new as it was the desired. Once she had painted my toes; shaved legs wasn’t a leap. In the dead of winter – only the two of us would know of our game. I allowed two inches up my thigh. “Stop.” I didn’t demand; she didn’t insist. “How about this little part here?” She plucked the patch in the center of my chest. I had been bullied as a boy. Hair on my chest was an accomplishment. A proof of my masculinity. I spent my youth in the era of the hirsute hero. Tom Selleck didn’t shave; I didn’t want to return to the prepubescent; I didn’t want to return to the pursuit of a woman. I returned the razor. There wasn’t much to shear. It was gone with a couple of whisks.

I stand in front of the bathroom sink and pull the tape from my arm. The bandaid is stained with a dot from my dried blood. I look into the mirror and see my smoothly patched chest. Clumps of hair line the surfaces outside my nipples. I don’t recognize myself. My body looks featureless and soft and absent of color. Like alabaster from some Sherwin-Williams collection. Freshly stirred. Smooth. I feel embarrassed. Feminine. Perverse. The opposite of clean. Not clean shaven. I don’t recognize myself. I have a habit. Since college. Or before. I habitually rub the space of skin that cocoons my heart when I think. I strum the space with a rhythm that echoes a flamenco beat. Rapid. Too rhythmic to be a tick. I lean into the mirror. My belly meets the porcelain. I look into my eyes and rub my heart. My palm grazes. Cold. Clammy. Like touching the unresponsive skin of a woman. I pull my hand away.

I step out of the shower and grab a towel. As I dry my body I see the stripes. Shaven from grin to groin. I look centered but I don’t feel centered. I don’t recognize myself. The ablations offer no solutions. My heart is broken. I feel vulnerable and weak and out of control.

(Photo courtesy of gerstelus.com)

Do This In Remembrance Of Me

20161130_broken-979x514He fumbled with his glove until he pulled it off his hand and reached into his pocket for his keys. “You beat me here today!” He walked into the room, flipped on the light, took off his coat, and hung it on a coat rack in the corner. “Come on in. Do you want some coffee?”

He listened to his own footsteps as he followed the priest into the room and began to remove his coat.

“Please close the door.”

He hung his coat on the rack. “No thank you. I’m avoiding caffeine.”

“Sit in either chair.”

He sat in the chair near the window and watched as the priest gathered a book and joined him in the sitting area.

“Let’s begin with a prayer.” The priest made the Sign of The Cross.

He made the Sign of The Cross and bowed his head.

At the conclusion of the prayer the priest began, “So tell me what’s going on.”

He looked at the ceiling and judged it a story or so. He looked at the wooden bookshelves that bound the room and the punctuated plants that decorated the shelves. He looked at the carpet and widened his legs. He pushed his hips against the back of the chair and sat erect. “I don’t feel God anymore. I don’t feel anything anymore. I can’t live life numb.”

“Tell me numb.”

He stood up and walked to the window. He looked at the sleet. “God I hate snow.”

“Hate isn’t numb.”

He turned around. “No. But you don’t understand. I’m not feeling the hate. I’m remembering it.”

“Tell me more.”

“I don’t want to remember me.”

“Explain that.”

He turned toward the window and slipped his hands into his pockets. “I feel empty. I’m not here. Not anymore.”

“Give me more.”

“My heart makes all the choices. And I mean the muscle. Congestive heart failure makes my choices. So I’ve got no free will. What I was. What I felt. What I did. I’m like a past tense verb. Everything was. I’m just an …. absence and … ” he struggled for the word until he found it, “and a remembrance.”

“And where is God in all this?”

“I haven’t a clue. You’re the one who’s supposed to know.”

“He’s here.”

“I don’t know I have the will to endure. I’m so afraid that was my last will and testament.”

“You do.”

He turned toward the priest. “How do you know?”

“Because I remember you.”

He turned toward the window. “Okay.”

 

(Photo courtesty of biblica.com)

Too Much Too

11“We weren’t at the wrong time,” she shook her head and lifted the wineglass to her lips. “There was just too much of an age difference.” She took a sip and set down the glass.

“My God that was ten years ago. I was a kid!” He laughed. “I’m still too old for you.”

“So, tell me about your heart.”

It was his turn to shake his head. “No. I don’t want to turn this into that. Let’s do the catching up thing and the reminiscing thing.”

He looked at pictures of her daughter; she heard about his play.

She interrupted him, “Was I in it?”

“One scene. I’ll send you a copy. I gave the only copy I brought with me to a friend of mine tonight. Did you want to order an appetizer of something?” He sat down his emptied highball. “They have great food here. I ate dinner here tonight.”

“No. I’m fine.”

“It’s so late. I’m really glad you came to meet me.”

She smiled and sat straight on the stool. “So why are you here? Explain it to me.”

“Well, I’m hoping to ghostwrite another autobiography. I don’t know if I’ll get it or not. And then I met with some investors. We’re talking about investing in a play and premiering it here.”

“That sounds exciting! Would you move to Chicago?”

“I don’t know. It’s all at the preliminary stages. The wallet guy likes how I write but he didn’t like the play. He thought it was too narrow to be a commercial success. But,” he stopped when the waitress approached and ordered another Manhattan. “So the idea is that I write another play. Something more traditional. And if he likes it, they’ll finance it. I told him I’d email him an outline when I get home. Which will be a feat because I haven’t one Goddamned clue what the play will be about!” He laughed.

“You’ve never had trouble with that.”

“Would you like another one?” He pointed to her emptied glass.

“Sure.” She reached across the table and patted the top of his hand. “So tell me. Who are you seeing? What’s new on the dating front?”

He saw the ring on her finger as it caught the light. “No one.” He sat back into his stool and crossed his arms over his chest. “I hate how I look with this weight. So I haven’t any confidence at all. And with the heart shit, I just can’t see getting a woman interested enough to want to join in on this death march.”

“Do you have anyone with you during all of this?”

“Well, my family. Of course. But no. Seriously I’m not seeing anyone. I was interested in someone but she made it quite clear she wasn’t interested in me. And that’s okay. And what the hell. It’s okay. I didn’t take it personally. I’m not me anymore. Not right now.” The waitress brought his drink and he ordered another glass of wine for her.

“How many have you had tonight?”

“I’m okay.” He took a sip. “I’m staying here. I just need to get to the fourth floor.”

“I’m concerned about your heart.”

“Yeah, you’re right. I’m drinking too much. I’m just so Goddamned depressed. And I can’t pull out of it.”

“Have you thought about getting a little professional help?”

“I am. I am seeing someone.”

“Good.”

“I’m so glad you met me tonight. I’ve missed you.”

“Have you?”

“Sure. You’re a big part of my life. I couldn’t come to Chicago and not see you. I don’t know if I’ll see you again.” His sadness caught his sentence in the middle of his throat. “Do you ever miss me?”

“No.” She rubbed his forearm. “I’m too busy to miss you. I work all the time and I have a husband who doesn’t like that I work all the time and I have a daughter I see 10 minutes a day.”

“Are you sorry you did the doctor thing?”

“No. I love it. I’m just busy. Nothing more than that.”

“I was a fool to let you go.”

“Truth be told Mark,” she looked into his eyes, “you never really had me.”

“I know. I was too old for you.”

“No. You were too much for me.”

“Let’s talk about something else.” He took a gulp of his drink. “What’s the rents like downtown?”

“Depends on where you want to live.”

“What’s wrong with Michigan Avenue?”

She laughed, “Well, you’d have to write one helluva play!”

Unbecoming.

10355007_1720374228187959_3244095366000911625_n“I don’t want to become that guy. I don’t.”

“Which guy?”

“Sick guy.”

“I don’t follow.”

“It’s a beautiful day today. I’m glad you moved us outside.”

“You seem to have more energy.”

“I think the new medicine is good. I have a window in the afternoons when I feel as good as I ever did. But then I crash.” He stretched his legs the length of the barren patch in front of the park bench.

“A couple of weeks ago you struggled to talk.”

“True. I wouldn’t mind it so much if this is my future. But the P.A kept telling me the medicine is toxic. That’s the word she chose. Toxic.”

“What did she mean?”

“I haven’t a clue. But I’ll tell you something, she was hot. We have official confirmation that my heart is strong enough for the blood to flow below my waist.”

“Mark …”

“Oh come on Padre. I told you I don’t want to be that guy.”

“Explain that.”

“Sick guy.” He stood up and stared at the trees across the park. “You know what no one ever talks about? How exhausting it is to be around the sick guy.” He turned around and looked at the priest on the bench. “See someone you love gets sick. Really sick. And you care. Because you love them. And the sick becomes everything. Every conversation. Every reference.  Every yard stick.  And then the sick person starts getting sicker and is scared and weaker and starts to vanish. And what you have left is like um,” he struggled for the word until he saw the unraked park, “a fragile leaf left over from the fall. And so you press them into this memory … book … and you suppress how you really feel. And you don’t love them anymore because they aren’t who they were. They’ve been replaced. They’re this vulnerable and usually bitter shell. And you resent the shell because it stole the person you loved and just sort of marks the spot where he was. And the guilt. Well you feel guilty for not loving this living … corpse …like you did. So you chastise yourself for being a dick. But the truth is the person you loved is dead. He died the first time you looked at him and saw he’d been replaced. And all that’s left is guilt and responsibility and burden. And that’s the truth. I’m not saying you don’t still love them but you love the was.” He turned away and faced the swing set across the park. “I’m not becoming sick guy.”

“That’s not entirely true. Love evolves but love is still present.”

“Well, we’ve just have to disagree. Because I’ve obviously thought about this a lot. The other day I noticed I’m becoming sick guy. I’m watching my death.  I’m fucking dying every day. I will not be sick guy. Do you know I’m dying every Goddamned day? Mark the biker. Dead. I started to walk to the corner the other day and I couldn’t. I’m too tired. Remember how I used to walk all the time? Mark the walker is dead. You know how fast I talked. I can’t. Mark the talker is dead. Dead. Even I don’t know what I am anymore. But I know I can’t allow myself to get bitter.”

“You’re not bitter. I’d say you’re …”

He interrupted, “sad. I’m sad.”

“Sadness is a valid emotion.”

He returned and looked him in his eyes. “Good thing because sad’s where I’ve landed.”

He walked beside his friend and held his hand while they watched the ducks waddle along the shore.

Beaten Path

It’s 2:56 am and I can’t sleep. It’s so disquieting listening to one’s own heartbeat in a dark and quiet room. Coupled with the jittery physical sensation caused by my new meds, and I’ve got my personal horror show with a rhythmic soundtrack provided by the erratic metronome of my heart.

Heart failure is a powerless position. I’m a problem solver. So I’m trying to figure out what to do. I guess the power is in compliance.

It’s so odd to realize a day arrives when your body works against you and becomes both the enemy and its torture.

Why post this shit? Because I can’t walk into the street and scream and the jitters are forcing the ejaculation.

And I know I’m running out of time.

Too soon my heart will beat me to death; too soon the sounds of my broken heart will become rote.  How much longer before my heartbreak provides a soundtrack to a beaten path?

Bruised

UntitledThis morning I stood before a full length mirror and looked at the losing and the loss and the gone.

My chest is bruised the complexions of autumn. My groin is bruised the stains of a vineyard. My foot bleeds the rest of the ripened and the rotted. I rebandaged myself and tried not to cry.

I can’t take the loss. My soul is fragile. My courage is brittle. In my past I’d cocoon and wait to heal my hope.

Today I considered the similar of cocoon and casket. Both are Kafkaesque. The became differs. The was does not.

 

(Photo courtesy of medicalnewstoday.com)